Salisbury freshman collecting jeans for needy teens
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — When Jaleel Hitchens set out to do a community service project, he was looking for something unique, something he could relate to.
That’s when he stumbled upon Aeropostale’s Teens for Jeans initiative at dosomething.org.
The idea of a jean drive for homeless students caught his eye as a way to raise awareness about poverty. One in three homeless people in the United States are under the age of 18, according to Teens for Jeans.
“Teens living in poverty is a big issue and I thought if I did something like this, other kids would realize that and help out,” Hitchens, a freshman at Salisbury High School, said.
Hitchens will be collecting gently worn jeans through Feb. 12.
He is challenging students at Salisbury High to bring in 5,000 pairs of jeans. If that goal is met, he plans to dye his hair red, black and gold.
Hitchens is enlisting the help of student groups throughout the school to get the word out about the drive. He’s already made presentations to the school’s Me Time girls and the African-American History Club.
“I think it’s good that a freshman is taking on a project like this,” said Brianna Moore, a freshman member of Me Time.
Zhane Goodlett, a junior Me Time member, said she’s impressed Hitchens is taking the initiative to make a positive difference.
“He’s showing that it doesn’t take a lot to give back to your community,” she said.
Plans are also in the works for events surrounding Teens for Jeans. Hitchens said he would like to host a jeans fashion show and a basketball game to raise funds.
“I’ll take that money and buy more jeans,” he said.
And Hitchens wants to get other schools to conduct their own drives.
“This is a project that every high school should participate in,” he said. “Since we like to compete in athletics, let’s compete for a good cause, something that other teens will benefit from.”
Since its inception, Teens for Jeans has collected and donated more than 1.5 million pairs of jeans to homeless youth.
Donations can be dropped off at Salisbury High, 500 Lincolnton Road. Visit www.teenforjeans.com for more information.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.