In the spirit of the mission of "Rachel’s Challenge," which is to inspire, equip and empower every person to create a "chain reaction" of permanent positive change, twenty students from have organized a drive to collect gently used jeans that will be given to teens in need.
The effort began last Monday, and according to teacher Erin Roche, these sixth, seventh and eighth graders are thrilled to be helping their peers.
"The students were extremely excited and willing to give from the start," she said. "They saw the need and wanted to help."
Rachel’s Club is an organization set up by the family of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first person killed in the Columbine High School tragedy on April 20, 1999.
Her father, Darrell, began to spread Rachel’s message—one that she had written in many diaries—of the need for a kinder, more compassionate nation. Scores of schools across the country have since participated in this challenge through club activities and assemblies.
Roche, an English teacher who runs Rachel's Challenge activities at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School said members of the three-year-old club have participated in fundraising activities each year.
"We started this drive last week and have already collected 250 pairs of jeans," Roche said. "We have a goal of 500 pairs by the end of this week."
She explained that clothing retailer , along with DoSomething.org, who are the sponsors of the campaign, asked kids in shelters what they needed to feel “normal” in school. The overwhelming response, she said, was a pair of jeans. They report that one in three people who are homeless are teens under the age of 18.
Eighth-grader Rachel Nadell said she understands what is special about a pair of jeans for a teenager.
"It is important for teens to feel good about themselves to boost their self-esteem,” she said. “For me, my favorite pair of jeans makes me feel great when I wear them and I would love for others to have that same feeling."
The students have asked their classmates, friends and families to donate gently used jeans that they have loved themselves so that other kids can love them just the same. Collections bins have been set up in guidance offices at the school for the drive, which runs through Friday, Feb. 10.
Principal Vanessa Defonce is impressed with the enthusiasm the students have shown.
“They have a true understanding of why it is important to help others less fortunate than them—this project inspires students to be good citizens and to recognize and appreciate all that they have,” she said.
“It has helped them to see the connection between a seemingly simple act and the great impact it can have on the community."
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