Students, parents and educators from Chesterfield County Public Schools collected more than 8,100 pairs of jeans for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia as part of Goodwill’s ninth annual Denim Drive donation contest. Goodwill awarded cash prizes during the county school board meeting on Oct. 10 to the three elementary, middle and high schools with the most donated denim items.
“This was one of our most successful donation drives, and the competition gets tighter each year,” said Russ Rainer, Goodwill’s donations coordinator for Central Virginia. The donation event is made possible through a partnership with the Chesterfield County Council of PTAs and Chesterfield County Public Schools. Most of the jeans go directly to Goodwill retail stores for re-sale; some denim is sold to recyclers for other purposes, such as creating insulation.
The top three elementary schools were Clover Hill, J.B. Watkins, and Grange Hall. The top three middle schools were Bailey Bridge, Robious and Midlothian. The top three high schools were Clover Hill, Midlothian and Cosby.
“It feels amazing to win and earn money to help our school,” said Shelley Herzing, associate principal at Clover Hill High School. “Events like this teach our students they can have a positive impact on their community,” she said. Herzing also praised the school’s parent teacher student organization for working with Rainer to coordinate the event. “They did all the hard work. Russ personally delivered the donation bins and our students decorated them,” she said.
In addition to prize money, Goodwill also awarded a special Student Leadership Award to Sai Poluri, a senior at Midlothian High School. “When our executive team heard what Sai did, they came up with this award,” said Rainer. “Sai personally coordinated his school’s donation drive – from sending emails to students, posting flyers on campus, collecting donated items, packing them into his car and delivering them to our Denim Drive donation sites. He helped his school donate 636 pairs of jeans,” said Rainer.
In another first, Goodwill presented Clover Hill High School with a “Grand Champion” trophy for donating more than 1,000 pairs of jeans. “We enjoy this event and Goodwill is a great partner,” said Greg Epps, president of Clover Hill High School’s PTSO. Epps said the prize money will be a big boost to its fundraising budget. “Helping people is important and we can teach that to our students by working with Goodwill and getting the parents and teachers involved,” Epps said.
The donated denim items help fund Goodwill’s mission to create pathways to opportunities and success for job seekers facing challenges to work. Through retail and other social enterprises, Goodwill provides employment and education programs for job seekers, provided at no cost, across Central and Coastal Virginia.