SPARTA, NJ – After the death of his father, Sparta High School student Ryan Ryersen was faced with the daunting task of helping to sort through his dad’s personal items. 

Ryan learned of the Teens for Jeans program and knew immediately that it was a perfect fit.  Donating his dad’s jeans would be the perfect tribute to his dad who had worked daily with teens.

The program donates jeans to homeless teens. Approximately one in three homeless people in this country are under the age of 18.  One of the most requested items those young people ask for is a pair of jeans. 

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Ryerson shared, “Jeans are such a huge part of the youth culture.  They can be dressed up or dressed down and provide a sense of normalcy to the person wearing them.”

Ryan’s mother Kathleen explained both parents attended the Sparta High School orientation and “were impressed with the high school staff and the many clubs and activities they offered.”  The talked with Ryan about the importance of being involved in the school community. 

At the time of his father’s death Ryersen was just about to begin high school.  His mother was concerned about having to make so many adjustments at the same time.  She was pleased to “see him become involved in many school activities” including marching band, yearbook, swim team, chess club, science league, key club and strings club.  All while maintaining his perfect attendance and high honor roll status. 

Outside of school Ryan plays in the Sussex County Youth Orchesra and St Kateri’s youth band. 

After gathering his father’s jeans, he turned to friends and neighbors and then the students and staff at school.  Ryan coordinated the Teens for Jeans campaign in 2015 collecting over 200 pairs of jeans.  They were distributed to area homeless shelters. 

Ryan said, “I have received amazing support for this project from my Sparta friends and neighbors.”

Ryan has started his 2016 Teens for Jeans campaign.  His goal is to double last year’s collection to 400 pairs of jeans.  Collection boxes at Sparta High School will be in the main entrance until Feb 21. 

 “We continue to find it difficult to get rid of any of my husband's belongings. Gordon lived in jeans,” said Kathleen. “When Ryan found dosomething.org and theTeens for Jeans campaign it seemed a perfect fit. Despite the heartbreak of losing his dad, Ryan realizes he is blessed in many ways and he understands the importance of giving back.”

Since 2008 Aeropostale and dosomething.org have partnered in the Teens for Jeans campaign. Over five million pairs of jeans have been donated to homeless shelters throughout the country.