Nov. 26, 2019 -- Monticello Middle School’s students, parents, and staff members did something simple to support military veterans, active troops, and their families: They wore jeans. Yes, that’s right! A simple dress-down day where everyone was encouraged to wear jeans took place at the middle school on November 6, one week before Veterans’ Day.
Students and staff collected funds, and perhaps most meaningfully, they collected actual pairs of gently worn jeans, to donate to the GI Go Fund, which assists veterans and their families with finding employment, connecting with their benefits, and accessing housing. The denim drive was organized by 7th grade Individuals & Societies (aka social studies) teacher Matt Minnillo.
Mr.Minnillo’s students learned about what it means to be a member of the military and the kinds of sacrifices that troops and their families make. He introduced them to the GI Go Fund and then “left it up to the kids to see how involved they wanted to be.”
Many students stepped up and embraced the chance to help. Several students had personal connections such as the 7th grader who said, “When I heard about jeans for troops I was excited because my brother is serving for the army national guard. My brother was really the only role model in my life, like the only male figure in my life. When my brother left I was down and I started to give up on everything in school and at home. So when I heard about these jeans for troops I was like I would do anything to help the people that my brother serves with. That is why I donated jeans for the troops."
Minnillo was impressed by the response from staff and families, who donated nearly $200 and over 200 pairs of jeans ranging in sizes from infants and toddlers through teens to adults.
“The first week, it was really slow,” he said. “But by the end, the entire display case in the school’s front hallway was filled with jeans.” Another student volunteer said, "As donations of jeans piled up in the display case, I knew I had contributed towards it. Jeans for Troops was incredibly successful and I am glad to have been a part of it."
The jeans and the money collected will be donated through the GI Go Fund to the Veteran’s Affairs office here in Cleveland, Ohio.