Jeans for Teens

Liam McCormick (Submitted photo / February 19, 2014)

Students at Arbutus Middle School are collecting jeans for homeless teenagers as part of a national effort called "Jeans for Teens" that is scheduled to end Sunday.

Language arts teacher Rizza Padilla, 31, set up a bin in her classroom for students and teachers to donate gently used jeans.

She became involved in the charitable effort through the web site. DoSomething.org.

The national effort has collected 3.5 million pairs of jeans over six years, according to the website.

About one in three people experiencing homelessness is under age 18, according to the website.

Schools collect the jeans and drop them off at an Aeropastale clothing store location through Feb. 23.

Schools that collect the most have the opportunity to win a grand prize of $10,000, Aeropastale t-shirts and a party, the website says.

Arbutus Middle School has collected 120 pairs of jeans, breaking the mark last year of 60, Padilla said.

"This year has been really great. We've gotten a lot of support from teachers and students," Padilla said.

The Arbutus Middle School PTSA is offering teachers two theater tickets to any show at the Lyric Opera House as an incentive for donating to the drive, Padilla said.

Students who participate get awards such as a coupon from Aeropastale, and will be entered into a raffle to win prizes, Padilla said.

Eighth-grader Liam McCormick, 14, donated 15 pairs of jeans on Feb. 10.

"I know there are kids out there worse off than everyone else [at Arbutus Middle School]. So I thought they could use something nice," McCormick said.

McCormick donated 20 pairs to the cause last year, Padilla said.

Liam lives with his parents, Ryan and Teresa McCormick, in Catonsville with his sister, Caitlin, 12, and brother, Kyle, 16.

Liam said his incentive for donating clothing wasn't to win the prize, which he gave away last year.

"I like helping people," Liam said. "It feels good."

Liam won't be able to participate next year since he'll be in high school. However, he plans to have his sister donate jeans on his behalf.

Michele Sammons, 44, a paraeducator in the special education department at Arbutus Middle School, donated 17 pairs of jeans to the drive this year.

At first, she donated nine pairs of jeans, but discovered eight additional pairs in her attic, Sammons said.

Sammons, an Arbutus resident, has four children and routinely donates the clothing they outgrow to Southwest Emergency Services.

When she heard about the drive at Arbutus Middle School, she decided to donate the clothing to "Jeans for Teens" instead.

"I think it's a great thing," Sammons said about the drive at the school. "It teaches the kids to care and have compassion for other people."