When people donate to the homeless in the cold, winter months, it tends to be hats, coats and gloves. What they don’t know is that they also look for pants, especially jeans.
That’s where Unionville junior Jess Oehler steps in.
“For a couple years now, I’ve been going around Philadelphia and donating a whole bunch of food and clothing items to the homeless over the holidays,” she said. “The one thing they always ask for the most is pants – something to keep them warm and it’s something we never have.”
It just happened to be luck that the 16-year-old stumbled upon Teens for Jeans, a campaign headed by Aéropostale and DoSomething.org to collect jeans to donate to homeless teens.
“It sounded really cool,” Oehler said. “It was also a chance for the school because whoever collects the most jeans has a chance to win a $10,000 grant. I thought it would be really cool for Unionville and just the leadership opportunity for me and a great way to get jeans to kids who need help.”
Oehler brought the idea to the school and in conjunction with Club Impact, a UHS club which does volunteer work in the community, the collection began around the time the holiday break ended.
Two boxes are set up in the school, one in the main office and one around the library. Both areas receive a high volume of student traffic throughout the day.
“We collect jeans from both students and parents, or anyone who wants to donate or has extra jeans laying around,” Oehler said.
The collection is set to end Feb. 14 at Unionville, when Oehler will take the jeans directly to a local Aéropostale store.
In the six years it has been going on, Teens for Jeans has collected over 3.5 million pairs of jeans. As a look at how popular the campaign has become, in 2011 alone, a record-breaking 1 million jeans were collected in four weeks and over 12,000 schools participated across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Oehler, who is always on the lookout for a new way to help in her community, is happy to have found Teens for Jeans.
“I figured the Teens for Jeans thing would be a really great way to get [the homeless] what they want,” she said. “This is a really great way to help out. I love helping the homeless. They always just light up when they get supplies.”