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National Junior Honor Society jean drive in Norwin exceeds expectations

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 10:04 p.m.
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
A drive to collect jeans for teenagers in need far exceeded the organizers expectations. Hunter Stecko, co-chair of the drive sponsored by the Norwin Middle School Junior National Honor Society, talks about why he got involved on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Norwin Star
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
A drive to collect jeans for teenagers in need far exceeded the organizers expectations. Kayla Kolesar and Hunter Stecko, organizers of the drive sponsored by the Norwin Middle School Junior National Honor Society sort one of the many donations received the the last day of the drive on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Norwin Star
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
A drive to collect jeans for teenagers in need far exceeded the organizers expectations. Kayla Kolesar, co-chair of the drive sponsored by the Norwin Middle School Junior National Honor Society talks about why she got involved on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Norwin Star

The Norwin Middle School National Junior Honor Society hopes to reach out to homeless teens by giving them donated jeans.

The 100-member group collected 936 pairs of jeans during its one-week drive as part of the national “Teens for Jeans,” campaign, sponsored by clothing store Aeropostale and dosomething.org, a nonprofit organization that encourages youth activism.

The organizations plan to distribute the jeans to homeless shelters throughout the region, according to the “Teens for Jeans” website.

Eighth-grader Hunter Stecko, president of the National Junior Honor Society, said the group hoped to collect at least 500 pairs of jeans but was overwhelmed at the student body's response to the project.

“It's a thrilling feeling to not only know how many people we could help but just that we could all come together as a school to collect this much,” Hunter said. “We never expected this – it exceeded our wildest expectations.”

Carol Lyons, National Junior Honor Society adviser and eighth-grade family and consumer sciences teacher, said the organization took on the drive as part of its annual community service project.

“We thought it was a great cause because these jeans are being donated directly to kids who are the age of the students in our middle school,” she said. “These kids can't even imagine not having a pair of jeans, but not all kids have the things they take for granted.

“But we never expected this to become as big as it did.”

According to the Teens for Jeans website, approximately 1.7 million teenagers are homeless and jeans are the most requested item at homeless shelters.

Eighth-grader Kayla Kolesar, secretary of the National Junior Honor Society, said the group was amazed at how many pairs of jeans were being brought into the school.

“Every day we came in, there would be a new, huge stack of jeans,” Kayla said. “It really began accumulating fast, and it was pretty exciting.”

The students, and some teachers, donated high-quality jeans for the drive, Kayla said. Some still had tags on them, she said.

Each day, members of the honors group inspected the jeans and found it was rare for much wear in any of the jeans, Hunter said.

Occasionally, they would find some frayed at the end of the legs or with small paint spots, he said.

“I'm sure parents are happy with this project because their kids want to give back to their community,” Kayla said. “Also, their closets are getting cleaned out at the same time.”

For more information on the Teens for Jeans campaign, visit www.teensforjeans.com.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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