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Extra pair of jeans? Student wants them for a good cause

July 4, 2021 GMT

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — While volunteering at Hearts and Hands United’s Coats Against the Cold event a few years ago, Averie Jamison watched a fellow volunteer, Al Holdren, give his own coat to a man in need when they ran out of his size.

The kind gesture inspired the Wes-Del High School student immediately, and she began brainstorming ways she could help the community.

Hearts and Hands United had its an annual coat drive and a Tools for School event, which provides students with a backpack full of supplies and a pair of shoes every summer. Jamison wanted to do even more, thinking of collecting an array of items, from T-shirts to jeans.

“I was like, ‘Oh, I want to do something and start my own thing, and make a change in peoples’ lives to help them out,’” Jamison said.

To help mold her ideas, she connected with Holdren, who is co-founder of Secret Families Christmas Charity, and the two began meeting almost weekly. While Jamison’s heart was in the right place, Holdren suggested she start out small, focusing on one item to collect.

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In 2019, she started her own jeans drive, “Fresh Threads,” collecting new and gently used jeans for grades K-12. In the drive’s first year, Jamison was able to collect about 250 pairs of jeans, taking them to the Tools for School event that summer.

Students already knew they’d be getting their school supplies and shoes, but when they reached Jamison’s table full of jeans, she remembered their eyes lighting up.

“They were excited and so surprised like, ‘Oh my goodness, we didn’t know we were going to get a pair of jeans, too,’” Jamison said. “The girls were really excited to get ones with rips in them, or like the Miss Me Jeans (brand). They all thought it was pretty cool, because they’ve never had a pair like that before.”

Now entering her senior year at Wes-Del, Jamison is preparing for her second jeans drive. Due to COVID-19, she couldn’t collect items last summer.

Wes-Del student Averie Jamison in Muncie Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Jamison started Fresh Threads in 2019 as a way to donate clothing to the annual Tools for School event.

Because of the year-long pause, it’s been difficult to gain momentum this time, and Jamison has been reaching out to friends and classmates for jeans they don’t need. To help out, Wes-Del students participated in the school’s hat day, where they could bring in a pair of jeans or $1 to wear a hat at school.

“I think it’s going to be OK, but I hope the outcome will be bigger than it was before,” Jamison said.

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While Jamison collected more than 200 pairs in 2019, she is hoping to bring 500 pairs to this year’s event. At this point, Jamison is looking for any size, color and style of jeans. However, she is in need of sizes for younger children, kindergarten through fifth-grade, which ran out quickly at the previous Tools for School event.

A student herself, Jamison said Fresh Threads has been a positive experience for both her and sometimes for classmates.

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“I actually had kids from high school come through and get a pair of jeans, and they were excited to see me. It was really cool to help them out,” Jamison said. “I have multiple friends reaching out to me. They want to help set up and help donate the jeans, and they want to be a part of it with me, which I think is really cool.”

Even if Jamison doesn’t stay in Indiana past graduation, she said she’ll always return home to run Fresh Threads. In the future, she hopes to see it grow and provide a variety of items to students, whether jeans, shoes or shirts.

Wes-Del student Averie Jamison in Muncie Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Jamison started Fresh Threads in 2019 as a way to donate clothing to the annual Tools for School event.

She’s even thought about having drives in schools throughout Delaware County, where students could donate spirit wear and other items for classmates that can’t afford it.

“I have been fortunate my whole life. I mean, I wanted to get the new jeans for school and go to school with a new outfit, and most kids don’t,” Jamison said. “Even if it’s just a small thing, like little kids think it’s so cool that teenagers are helping them pick out a pair of jeans. Just seeing the smile on people’s faces and how appreciative they are. Even a pair of jeans can make someone’s day so much better.”

With Tools for School tentatively scheduled for early August at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Jamison will be collecting jeans until July 30. From there, she’ll be cleaning, bagging and organizing for the event.

The Jamison family will hold a large collection event 6-8 p.m. July 16 in the parking lot of the First Church of the Nazarene, 3802 W. Bethel Ave. In case of rain, the event will be held in the church’s gym.

To donate jeans or make a monetary donation other than at the July 16 event, contact Millissa Jamison at 765-748-8896 or Averie Jamison through Facebook at facebook.com/averie.jamison.