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Murray Journal

Horizon Students Donate Jeans, Clothing To Help Community

May 05, 2016 02:10PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama| [email protected] 

Murray - About 700 pairs of jeans as well as coats, shoes and other clothing items were packed into bags and boxes at Horizon Elementary as school children donated gently used items to people in need.

“We collected items in February to tie into Valentine’s Day and called it Huskies with Heart: Giving Pants a Second Chance,” said Parent-Teacher Association volunteer Rebecca Lawrence, who coordinated the effort with PTA President Wendi Larsen. “We are amazed as how they embraced the project and generously donated. We didn’t give the kids any incentives, just the great feeling of helping others.”

The drive, from Feb. 1 through Feb. 12, had an overflowing box in the school lobby, which Lawrence and others would count and store in the PTA closet until they delivered an SUV filled with bags to the Road Home Overflow Shelter.

The project began when the school’s music teacher suggested they participate in Jeans for Teens, a campaign where jeans are collected for local youth experiencing homelessness.

“We thought that would be a great fit for teen-agers in junior high and high school, but wanted to create something fitting for our own students. So we called Road Home to see what they needed and they said pants were something they needed in all sizes — kids to adults. So we organized our own drive and realized that there are people who need something as basic as pants and jeans,” Lawrence said.

PTA president Larsen said that their drive was simpler than Jeans for Teens as well, with just bringing in donations rather than logging items online.

“The hardest part of this was to empty the big box we had in the school,” she said. “Every day, we needed to empty it. That was a great feeling and the students could see the success of helping others.”

Horizon Elementary has helped with other service projects, including a shoe drive organized by a former Miss Murray, and helping as a Sub-for-Santa for families in need.

“It was our principal (Heather Nicholas) who pointed out that when students brought in items for Sub-for-Santa, their faces would light up as they showed they brought in things on a list of needed items. Their faces would just shine and it was very empowering as they believed, ‘I can do this, I can help.’ We wanted them to feel the same feeling of being selfless and to give just for the sake of helping and giving, not for a reward,” she said.

As students brought in pairs of jeans, Lawrence said it was apparent they understood.

“You’d see kids drop in bags in the school on the way to their class and they were excited. Incentives aren’t necessary. The kids got behind it, their parents and families supported our desire to serve our community,” she said.

Fourth-grader Katrina Larsen said her family donated about 10 pairs of jeans.

“They were a mix of everyone’s at home,” she said. “We all went through our pants and shorts, then washed them before donating them at school. I didn’t realize there are people who may not have many pairs of pants or jeans and it made me feel good to do something good for other people.”

Larsen said that they realized that not everything needs a material reward.

“When they donated something, it was a reward enough. Nobody said anything about ‘what do we get,’ or needed any encouragement. We just announced the need and our students and their families stepped up to help. That was a great feeling in itself,” she said.