More than ever, people are in need help, and putting in that extra effort can really make a difference. After you commit yourself, it becomes something more of second nature than a chore. In fact, it has been my experience that the real challenge is not helping, but rather finding causes that resonate with me. There are an abundance of organizations to support, and it can be tough to choose the best. After all, you can’t devote your time to all of them.
It is with this in mind that I hope this article helps lead you in the right direction. I recently spoke with a friend, Shonna Berk, who told me about a cause she had been working with, Teens for Jeans. To her, the organization provides a quick, simple, and cheap way to spread the love and help support those in need.
Teens For Jeans
Teens for Jeans makes it easy for teens to make a difference. Just drop off you favorite pair of old, gently worn jeans at your any Aéropostale store in the U.S. or Canada. No cost, no hassle. While the organization accepts donations from people of all ages, the focus lands on the youth, and for good reason: 1 in 3 homeless people are under 18 years old.
And that’s one of my favorite things about the organization – it understands its audience. Rather than asking for monetary donations, which is slightly uncharacteristic of young people (activists or not), it asks for gently worn jeans – nothing more. Considering that the majority of teenagers are focused on what’s in style, they leverage the fact that young people go through clothes fast. Rather than letting these clothes go to waste, they send them on to the homeless youth.
This makes for an efficient program by both assiting those in need while educating those in comfort.
An Experience with Success
Berk’s own experience with Teens for Jeans is what really drew me to the organization.
After briefly talking about what the organization is about, I asked her how she got involved. “I have been wanting to get involved with helping those less fortunate ever since moving to Santa Barbara,” said Berk, “Googling felt like the most efficient, quickest way to find organizations. Teens for Jeans showed up, and I quickly realized that this is not only free, but easy. The clothing store Aéropostale has put this on for a few years now, and I felt I could bring this good cause to Santa Barbara as my first personal project.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Berk started by creating a flyer and using art to turn moving boxes into donation bins. Starting with Antioch University, Berk went on to flyer and spread the word at local shops and businesses. Soon, the community support really started to show. With several donations spots, Berk now makes weekly runs to collect jeans for storage until turning them into Aéropostale in February.
At that point, I knew the Teens for Jeans passed the most fundamental test: inspiring others to take action. This especially rang true when I asked Berk what she is gaining from all of this. “Though I am not getting school credit or [getting] paid for [being] involved with this, the feeling of doing something so beneficial for the homeless is the best reward I could receive,” she said, “Every time I receive a pair of jeans, it puts the biggest smile on my face to know there are people out there who are willing to participate.”
For more information about Teens for Jeans, check them out online. We urge you to take the initiative like Berk – you never know who you’re helping out down the road!