The effort is part of a nationwide program called Teens for Jeans, which partners high schools with local Aeropostale stores. Because one in three homeless people in the United States is younger than 18, Kimball students said they wanted to do something to give back to their peers in need.
“It’s such an easy project,” said Aloukika Shah, a junior. “We wanted to start something on our campus, and this is the perfect way for us to do it.”
More than 10,000 schools are participating this year in Teens for Jeans, which is also a contest. The winning school will receive $5,000 in cash, a school-wide party and a pair of jeans for every student.
Students have been collecting jeans since Jan. 16, and the program ends Sunday, Feb. 12.
The record set last year was 3,500 pairs of jeans. Kimball’s students and staff members said they thought they could beat that number as they made their final collection push this week.
By midweek, they had more than 2,000 pairs, and the number was rising steadily each day, according to activity director Matt Soeth, who organized the leadership students spearheading the program.
“We set our goal around 4,000 (pairs),” Soeth said. “My hope is a sense of school pride. A shared experience, and I believe contributing to the greater good — something that extends beyond us and the school.”
Entering the student leadership room reveals piles of jeans, covering the floor and tables.
“I think it’s a good opportunity,” said Zach Hoffert, a sophomore. “There is a need for it; so many high school students able to make a difference.”
To make the event even more interesting, students and staff have turned the program into a school-wide competition to see who could collect the most pairs. Leading the school so far was math teacher Enayat Quayumi, who agreed one day to fill a small box in the back of his room that eventually grew into more than 700 pairs.
“It’s so much fun,” he said. “I only wanted four in my box, and another teacher’s name popped up, and then we got into a competition. It’s crazy. The first day, I got 152 pairs of jeans, and I couldn’t teach, I was so excited.”
On Wednesday, leadership students rallied classmates during the noon lunch period as part of a jeans-themed week. Wednesday had been declared “Jean-ius” day, and many students dressed up while putting together a large paper puzzle on the quad area that represented homework eaten by a dog.
Carina Banci watched the competition with her sister Katrina.
“It’s a good idea,” she said. “A lot of homeless — and everybody needs a lot of things. Everybody is on board. Everybody has jeans.”
Anyone who wants to donate a pair of slightly used jeans can drop them off at Kimball High School, 3200 Jaguar Run, or call the school at 832-6600. Denise Ellen Rizzo