For his senior project, Thomas Rodriguez, 19, decided to ask teens at his school to donate jeans for homeless students.
The Ridgewood High student netted 147 pairs.
Last week they sat in piles, boxes and bags in a room on the second floor of the New Port Richey area school.
Eventually they will sit on the hips of homeless students from all over Pasco County.
“I was always given to when I was younger,” Rodriguez said. “So I wanted to give back.”
Rodriguez started his effort this year after his girlfriend learned of the Teens for Jeans project, a partnership between AeroPostale, Do Something.org and schools in which students donated jeans for a chance to win $5,000 for their school.
Rodriguez's project is not in the AeroPostale competition.
Rodriguez sought advice from Ridgewood Assistant Principal Alicia Leary, whom he calls a mentor.
Leary is responsible for Ridgewood’s 11th grade cohort and also supervises senior projects. She has family who has worked with the Pasco County School District’s Students in Transition program, which helps enroll homeless students in schools and helps them— and their families— find the resources to stay in school.
Rodriguez is giving his donation to the Students in Transition Program, which will deliver the jeans to the students.
Rodriguez started working on his drive with Leary in February. She helped him make fliers and promote the drive. He made announcements over the intercom and gave up time at lunch to collect donations. The project took about two months. A lot of the jeans came from Ridgewood students, but some came from friends and family.
“I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but I did,” Rodriguez said.
On Thursday, Erika Remsberg, the school district’s homeless liaision, gave Rodriguez a certificate to show the program’s appreciation.
"I want to thank you for this," she said. "Because these jeans do mean a lot. … I have had numerous children out of school because they didn’t have appropriate warm clothing. So this is very useful. This will make a difference."