On Thursday, Oct. 4 bins were placed in various locations on the Whitworth campus under neon pink signs labeled “Jeans for Teens.” Jeans for Teens is a donation event through Spokane YoungLives, a branch of Young Life ministries. YoungLives is an outreach program for pregnant and teenage mothers.
Whitworth students are encouraged to drop off used or unused jeans in one of the three bins located in the Hixson Union Building, East and Warren throughout October.
“The jeans are just a little pick me up for these moms,” said Karissa Naslund, a volunteer mentor at YoungLives.
Naslund created the Jeans for Teens event. She said she thought of the idea as she was cleaning out her closet and noticed all the old pairs of jeans she had.
Rather than giving them to a thrift store, she decided a more productive and beneficial use would be to give them to teenagers who could use them, such as the young women she has met through the Spokane YoungLives club.
On the first Wednesday of each month, these clubs hold meetings that provide free dinners for the mothers.
“When the girls become pregnant, they lose a lot of support and are isolated,” said senior Patty Means, a mentor at YoungLives. “YoungLives provides a community and relationships.”
Activities such as crafts and games add excitement and energy to the events. The evenings also includes a speaker with a Jesus-centered talk to provide the group with spiritual insight.
Mentors of YoungLives clubs provide different services for teenage moms, such as giving them a ride, helping them fill out housing applications and encouraging them.
“We mentor and support teen moms and strive to meet real and practical needs,” said Linda McDonald, the assistant director of YoungLives.
Seven young women from Whitworth volunteer at YoungLives. One of these volunteers is sophomore Samantha Keogh.
“YoungLives clubs provide an opportunity for moms to take a step back and focus on themselves,” said Keogh.
Keogh is the Whitworth representative for the Jeans for Teens event.
She said she heard about YoungLives through an announcement at Branches Church, which houses one of the three YoungLives clubs in Spokane. She started volunteering at the club and heard about the Jeans for Teens event at one of the meetings. She told McDonald she would get Whitworth involved in the donation collecting.
“I am so excited that Whitworth has the opportunity to be involved in this ministry,” Keogh said. “It is an easy way to make a big impact.”
Keogh will collect the donations and take them to the November meeting where YoungLives will put on a “jean shopping day” for the teenage mothers, free of charge.
McDonald said this is a great opportunity for these women since about 95 percent of them live below the poverty line.
YoungLives strives to support local businesses. Any jeans that go unused will be donated to Global Neighborhood Thrift, a local thrift store supported by Branches Church.
Anyone can donate to the Jeans for Teens, as long as the jeans are still in decent condition, as having a large variety of jean sizes and styles is ideal.
“The more help we can get the better,” Means said. “There are many teen dads at YoungLives as well so guys can donate jeans too.”
McDonald said she was excited about Whitworth’s involvement with YoungLives and hopes to have student participation in this event as well as future events.
Rebekah Bresee Staff Writer
Contact Rebekah Bresee at firstname.lastname@example.org.