The 8-year-old Jerusalem Township boy who collected enough used jeans to help insulate more than two average-sized houses will be honored next month at a ceremony in Washington.
National Geographic Kids is paying for Erek Hansen and his mother, Amy Hansen, to visit on an overnight trip so they can attend an Aug. 12 ceremony at Union Station to unveil how many jeans the magazine collected for Cotton Inc., a research and promotion organization.
All of the jeans ultimately will be recycled into cotton insulation for houses to be built in areas damaged by hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters.
With the help of readers such as Erek, the only youngster invited to the unveiling ceremony, the magazine has set the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of clothes to recycle, said Rachel Buchholz, managing editor of National Geographic Kids. She wouldn't reveal before the ceremony how many were collected.
Many readers sent in a couple of pairs of jeans, and some schools and companies sent in larger amounts, Ms. Buchholz said. The magazine kept track of total donations, but whether Erek donated the largest amount for the "Cotton. From Blue to Green" effort is hard to tell, she said.
"It's just impossible to keep a true count," Ms. Buchholz said.
Erek collected 1,055 pairs of jeans during a drive at Jerusalem Elementary and at a garage sale at the family's house. His collection was enough to insulate two average-sized houses. They were sent to the magazine with more than 600 other pairs collected by First Solar Inc. in Perrysburg Township, which heard about Erek's efforts, mounted its own drive to help out, and paid for shipping.
"We're excited to have him," Ms. Buchholz. "We just want to recognize his efforts."
Erek, who said he was surprised by the distinction and trip, said he hopes to collect jeans again for the recycling program.
"We might do it next year," said Erek, who turns 9 next week.
Cotton Inc. started the recycling program in 2006, and past drives have collected enough denim to provide insulation for 180 Habitat for Humanity houses in the Gulf Coast region. National Geographic Kids, which has set three other Guinness World Records in recent years, figured the recycling program would appeal to its environmentally conscious readers, ages 6 to 14, Ms. Buchholz said.
"We thought this would be perfect for our readers," she said. "They all have lots of pairs of jeans in their closets."
Mrs. Hansen said the family is paying for Erek's sister, Emma, 7, to go to Washington, where they probably will spend an extra night. She is making plans for the three to visit the White House and other sites.
"He's been wanting to go to Washington for quite some time," Mrs. Hansen said of Erek.
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