Tuesday, February 21, 2012
McKinney school gathers 5,000 pairs of jeans for homeless
It's a contest, and if Evans wins, the school gets $5,000.
Evans Middle School students have brought new meaning to "better late than never."
And they've done so all in a day's pants.
Over the past 10 days, the students collected more than 5,000 pairs of jeans for Aéropostale, which will donate them to area kids in need through its nationwide contest, "Teens for Jeans."
"I didn't know we were going to get this much," said Maya Eldin, the eighth grader who sparked pants pandemonium at Evans. "I'm really proud of my school."
Organized by Aéropostale, a popular clothing store, and DoSomething.org, the "Teens for Jeans" contest is in its fifth year. More than 12,000 schools across the country participated this year.
Many began collecting in January. Evans started last week.
Eldin, a National Junior Honor Society member, thought igniting her school's participation would be perfect for earning NJHS service hours. A few pairs of jeans here, a few hours there.
Kimberly Church, NJHS advisor and Spanish teacher at Evans, had other ideas: Go big or ... go back to class. Except big for Church meant 500 pairs of jeans -- seemingly a lofty goal for a week's time.
"Most figured we couldn't make much of a difference in 10 days," Church said, "but that it would at least give a few kids some service hours."
By last Thursday night, they reached their goal -- 561 pairs. And they weren't done, not by a long -- very long -- pant leg.
Students brought in more than 2,000 pairs of jeans Friday morning. Church had a mass email sent out to teachers the previous night asking not to mark students tardy. Almost every student likely would have been.
"There were people just dragging in huge bags, and the drop-off line was completely clogged, lining Eldorado Parkway, parents opening their trunks and pulling out the jeans," Church said. "It was like an episode of Hoarders but without the therapist to help you through it."
Jeans came in droves, from $150 True Religions to Abercrombie Boot Cut to Levis, Church said. Students wore stickers and shirts donning the "Teens for Jeans" logo. Their school was all in.
"It's made me realize that a lot of kids can help out just by having a common goal, just from one person saying we should try it out," said eighth-grader Miriah Mattos. "Whether we win or not, at least we tried something."
Students, teachers, and parents this week delivered two loads -- eight cars full -- to the Aéropostale at Stonebriar Mall in Frisco. They had to get the mountainous distraction out of Church's classroom.
"In passing periods, we had to put a board up and turn off the light because the whole hall would just be filled with people," said Cole Hatcher, a main contributor to the cause. He and fellow eighth-grader Jack Powers went door-to-door asking their neighbors for jeans.
The innovative duo gathered more than 150 pairs in just a few days, bringing their neighbors into the initiative. Other students took their cause to the Allen Outlet Mall, from which they gathered brand-new, still-tagged jeans from Tommy Hilfiger and Perry Ellis.
"It's not just the school," Church said. "They've inspired their entire community. All of the jeans will go to homeless teens in our area, so they might actually be giving back to kids that they're sitting right next to in class."
Though students spoke mostly of helping their community, if their school wins, they each get a brand-new pair of Aéropostale jeans. The winning school also gets $5,000 and a big party.
As of Friday afternoon, Evans ranked in the top five nationally. All week, the school flip-flopped with Franklin County High School of Tennessee for the No. 1 spot.
Whether Evans wins, thousands of homeless kids will soon be smiling. Probably few will know where their new jeans come from.
They won't know how much better late is than never.
"I think our school really developed a good relationship with each other because, before, we didn't really know we could do something this big," Eldin said. "We tried and found out we can."
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