Jacob Rak-Kinonen may not be able to clothe all 1.7 million homeless teens in the US. But he’s definitely trying.
Over the last three years, the 16-year-old from Phoenix has collected 6891 pairs of jeans during DoSomething and Aeropostale’s Teens for Jeans  campaign. Read on to see how the lean, mean jean machine got started...and how he’s getting a leg up on last year’s total of 2829.
Why did you get involved with Teens for Jeans?
First off, it's about helping others. And it was easy. I'm not asking anyone for their money or their time, two precious commodities nowadays. I'm just asking them to clean out their closet and ask a friend to do the same. It's stuff not being used that someone else can use.
What was the biggest challenge you faced running your jeans drive?
Year one it was the short time frame. I had just found out about it and it was almost over. Year two was just being able to find boxes to pack all the jeans in. I was lucky that a garage on my school campus was made available to me. So I had a place to work, but I had to dumpster dive every weekend to get boxes to put the jeans into. Year three was just getting everyone on board again. I had a couple places drop out after committing to help and the economy hit so hard that it was a lot harder to get people to give up their jeans. This year everyone just seems to be too busy...getting ready for college, sports, dating...I'm just really working on getting the word out.
What was the BEST part about taking part in Teens for Jeans?
It had to be loading the jeans in the truck (donated by Budget). It’s a ton of work each year, but it's where you feel/see success. You can really quantify what you have done and then allow your imagination to run with who is getting the jeans and the difference they might be making in that person’s life.
Any advice for other teens looking to run a drive of their own?
START! Get a box and tell 10 people, then have them tell 10 people. Ask for help. Tell people what you are doing via email, social media, school announcements. Tell them why you are doing it - everyone wants to be part of something positive. Share the feeling of success by updating everyone on how the drive is going.
This is a great group/club/team/school service project, a great Eagle Scout project, a great religious group service project. The key...do it with others and make it fun. One year we took pictures of all different types of jeans that were donated - it was amazing. But you have to START!
We collected over 1 million of jeans last year. This year, we need YOUR help. GO