Teens for Jeans

Scarborough teens help youth in need by donating their lightly worn jeans to local Aeropostale stores in the fifth annual Teens For Jeans campaign

According to Maurice Jordan, the chances of finding a decent pair of youthful jeans in a homeless shelter are pretty slim. Most of the clothes people donate to shelters are worn and dated.

“It is not stuff that younger people want to wear,” Jordan said.

Aeropostale

However, Scarborough teens are making sure that Jordan, and others like him, get some modern jeans to wear. This past January, teens across Canada and the United States donated their lightly worn jeans to local Aeropostale stores.

“The company wants to help put jeans on kids that don’t have anything,” says Diane Brandst, manager of the Aeropostale in the Scarborough Town Centre.

This is the fifth annual Teens for Jeans campaign run by Aeropostale and dosomething.org. The campaign intends to raise awareness about youth homelessness. The jeans brought to the Aeropostale in the Scarborough Town Centre are donated to Sutton Youth Shelter in Sutton, Ont., where Jordan lives.

Corriene Edison, volunteer coordinator at the Sutton Youth Shelter, manages clothing donations as they come in. They have been receiving jeans from the Scarborough Town Centre Aeropostale for two years. The shelter usually asks for around 200 pairs of jeans.

“It is a great program for us mainly because we are a little bit isolated, we are located in the north, in a small community, so there really isn’t a lot of stores and stuff that the youth can get to,” Edison says.

Maurice Jordan

Maurice Jordan (Maurice Jordan)

Jordan, 26, is originally from St. John’s, Nfld. He decided to leave home when he was 23 years old and travel to Ontario in the hopes of finding better work opportunities.

With a little money in his pocket, he began his four-day hitchhiking adventure.

“It was a great experience. It was my first time ever hitchhiking and I enjoyed doing it. I met a lot of interesting people and it was fun,” Jordan says.

Along the way, Jordan met a man in the United States army, who really influenced the way he thought about people. The man spoke to Jordan about how being homeless helped shape the person he is today.

“It made me feel pretty good because usually people in the community look down on people that are homeless or are in trouble. They don’t realize that we are all human and that we all struggle at some point in our life.”

Youth unemployment statistics

Scarborough Data:

According to the 2006 data Scarborough has the highest concentration of Youth (15-24) in Toronto, with the majority of youth living in the Rouge Hill area.

The average unemployment rate in Scarborough is 6-13%.

However, Scarborough has a number of youth employment programs and facilitators:

  • Springboard Employment Services: 416-849-4421
  • Storefront of East Scarborough: 416-208-6130
  • YMCA Employment & Community Services — Scarborough: 416-609-0218
  • Summer Company: 1-800-387-5656

Information gathered by Georgia Williams

Toronto Data:

7.4%: The unemployment rate for Canada in February.

14.5%: Youth unemployment in February.

33,000: The number of homeless Canadians.

11,000: The number of these Canadians who are youth.

64%: The number of homeless youth who are male.

91% of males and 72% of females are between the ages of 19 and 25 when they become homeless.

15: The age that homeless youth generally leave home.

36%: The number of street youth who earn money by panhandling or “squeegeeing.”

12: The number of shelters for youth in Toronto

522: The number of beds the shelters have to offer.

Source: covenanthouse.ca

One of the hardest things about leaving home was leaving behind all of his family and friends. He calls them every once in a while, but cannot call them everyday because he simply cannot afford it.

“It gets hard because I get homesick, I get stressed out, I get disappointed in myself and I have nobody to talk to and I wish I could have at least some of my family around me,” he said.

He decided to stay in Ontario because he knew he did not want to be too far away from his family. He could have gone farther west to Alberta and perhaps found a better job, but he could not bring himself to go that far from home.

“I never thought I’d see myself in a shelter because I thought I’d have myself figured out when I came here,” Jordan says.

Jordan has lived in the Sutton Youth Shelter on and off since he arrived in Ontario. Although he wishes he lived on his own, the resources and amenities offered at the shelter have really helped him. The shelter, which has been open for six years, has 26 beds and employment officers as well as housing workers on site everyday.

“I’d rather be here and having three meals a day than being on the side of the road with really nobody to turn to,” Jordan says.

Since the shelter houses youth ages 16 – 26, the majority of the activities offered at the shelter are targeted for people who are younger than Jordan. This often leaves him feeling isolated. He looks forward to the day when he is able to find a place of his own.

“My intention is to get my own place again, get a full-time job and try to succeed in life,” Jordan says.

The jeans

However, living in a small town has made finding a job a challenge for Jordan. Since he does not want to continue living in different shelters, he is waiting for an opportunity to find a job that will allow him to move to a bigger city.

“The jeans are good especially for people who are wanting to be out trying to find jobs or who are going to school or anything else,” Jordan says.

According to Jordan, the jeans that the shelter gets from the Scarborough Town Centre Aeropostale can be useful to him when he is looking for a job because they are modern. A good pair of jeans may be something that a lot of teens take for granted. However, as Jordan points out, there is infinite value in having a good pair of jeans.