Stow Presbyterian Church is collecting gently worn jeans--any brand, size--for homeless teens in our area (a DoSomething.org project). Drop off jeans in the blue collection bin at the front doors, 4150 Fishcreek Road, through February 12. www.stowpres.org
If you are looking at your closet and wondering what to do with the jeans you wore last year (or two sizes ago), don’t throw them out. The members of Stow PresbyterianChurch want them for a special project to benefit homeless teens.
According to national statistics, one out of every three homeless people in America is under the age of 18.
That adds up to 1.7 million homeless and runaway teenagers each year, some as young as age 10. Shelter workers have asked these kids what one thing can help make life feel more normal. The answer: a pair of jeans.
So DoSomething.org and retailer Aéropostale created “Teens for Jeans” to collect jeans for homeless teens. Members at Stow Presbyterian Church learned about the drive two weeks ago and immediately got on board.
“We felt this would be a simple way for people to help some of our most vulnerable kids,” said project coordinator Monica Albright. “Nearly everyone has a pair of jeans they no longer wear.”
The church has collected nearly 100 pairs of jeans in the past two weeks from its members. Now it is opening the drive to the local community. Gently worn jeans ofany brand, size, or style may be dropped off at an outdoor collection bin at the church entrance at 4150 Fishcreek Road through February 12.
Church members will then transport the jeans to a local Aéropostale store for processing and distribution. “Teens for Jeans” has partnered with 1,000 homeless sheltersaround the country to get the jeans into the hands of these teenagers.
“One of the reasons we joined ‘Teens for Jeans’ is that some of the jeans will be given to homeless teens in the Northeast Ohio area,” Mrs. Albright said. “It was important to us that our efforts would help young people in our community.”
Mrs. Albright added that it’s important to remind people that homeless teens are not just a big city problem.
“Whether they are runaways or living with a family that has lost their home during these difficult economic times, homeless teens can be found in every city, every
community,” she said. “Some are fleeing severe physical or emotional violence, are dealing with drug abuse issues, or have been cast out because of an unwanted pregnancy.We cannot in good conscience allow them to remain invisible.”
According to a recent report by National Public Radio, the number of homeless teens in Ohio has doubled since 2005.
National organizations that track homeless teens, such as the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Runaway Switchboard, note that homeless teens aremore likely to drop out of school, to be physically or sexually abused on the street, and to suffer from depression, mental illness, and chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes.They are at greater risk of contracting AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases and at significantly higher risk for substance abuse and suicide.
For more information on the Stow Presbyterian Church “Teens for Jeans” drive, visitwww.stowpres.org or call 330-688-6935.