Jeans for Teens

Story by Lauren Jones

Blue jeans. Something so simple and something most of us take for granted every day. However, to some, including Kelli Collins, they are something precious that can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

From first glance, Kelli is your typical teenager, wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and flip flops. However, this 12-going-on-22 year old is helping out the community in her own creative, fresh new way. Kelli, with the help of her mother, Renee, has established the project Jeans for Teens, a system in which those in need are able to receive new or gently worn pairs of jeans for free.

Kelli came up with the project idea last year when her father was laid off from his job. The struggles that many families must deal with everyday were quickly brought to her attention, and she wanted to do something to help. “Economically, last year was horrible,” Kelli said. “My family was affected, but we were lucky to have family and friends who helped pull us through. Lots of families were not as fortunate. The mission of Jeans for Teens is simple: anyone in need of a pair of jeans will receive help.”

The community project has partnered with III’s Company, a local boutique in downtown Russellville. There is a drop-off box for Jeans for Teens inside the store, and with the donation of a new or gently worn pair of blue jeans, shoppers will receive 20% off any purchase. “We believe it is very important to respond within our community to help those in need,” Kelli said.

Jeans for Teens is a year-round program that will hopefully grow even larger than it already has become. The program accepts any sizes of jeans, and for both boys and girls from Kindergarten to 12th grade. They also have a drop-off box at Notto Chiropractic Clinic, 619 East Parkway in Russellville, and they are hoping to establish more in the very near future. They are also hoping to partner with more organizations beginning this summer, so they can get the word out to more people.

The program works closely with school counselors to make certain that jeans go to children who need them. Doing this in a closed, quiet matter allows each child to maintain a positive self-image.

“Our goal is to impact every facet of a child’s life to give hope and confidence so that they might achieve full potential,” says Kelli. “Teenagers take their jeans seriously. I know I cannot live without my favorite pair. So many times what you wear can affect how you feel and perform through the school day.”

As part of the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen organization and as the reigning National Our Diamond Miss “Young Miss Model”, Kelli has been able to use this project as her platform, and thus take this program to new heights. She says this title will allow her to take her platform throughout the state of Arkansas.

“I believe that every effort we make will have a positive influence in someone’s life. The average person can easily go to the store and purchase the items that they need for school. However, there are some in our community who can only dream of this. We can make their dreams a reality.”

Kelli Collins is just a simple girl with a simple goal – to make sure any child in need has a pair of jeans to call their own. She wants to help her community, but she needs help to get the information out to the public. To donate jeans, please visit one of the drop-off boxes at the locations mentioned previously. To find out more information about the program, please visit www.myjeansforteens.com, or call Renee Notto at (479) 858-7176.

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Category: Community, Features

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