High school teachers raise thousands of dollars each year with Denim Days


Ella Katona

When Shaler Area High School staff members are seen wearing denim, their happiness is not just from being able to wear casual clothing during a work day, but also from helping people in need.

Denim Days started nearly 18 years ago from an idea that blossomed between Mrs. Mindy Thiel and Mrs. Dina Donini. They had approached Mr. William Suit, the principal at the time, about an idea for a staff fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. Mrs. Thiel then came up with the idea to call it Denim Days, where, if staff members donated $5 or more to the cause, they could wear denim to work.

“We wanted to help charities and fundraisers, but not only that, we secretly wanted to have the chance to be able to wear jeans to work,” Mrs. Thiel said.

Mr. Suit agreed to this idea, and the idea raised around $450 for the charity. It was such a success that it was decided to hold monthly Denim Days to benefit a variety of charities. The success of Denim Days at the high school resulted in the idea being implemented throughout the school district so now there are both high school specific and district-wide Denim Days.

Every month, Denim Days brings in anywhere from $300-$500, resulting in about $5,000 being raised yearly just at the high school alone.

Over the years, many charities, both local and national, have been supported by Shaler Area staff members.

“We want to choose charities that will impact our district. Every year we support charities who give away scholarships to students who pursue education. Another one, called ‘Holiday Help,’ is run to help students, so that they are able to have a Christmas present for the holidays,” Mrs. Thiel said.

Even with hybrid and fully remote learning, Mrs. Thiel is determined to still make Denim Days a reality and run it like they would any other year. Due to the pandemic, some charities and fundraisers have become wary to reach out to numerous places for donations. With this in mind, the school board is still trying to look to local charities to help others in any way possible.

“The board is very passionate about helping and filling the needs of the district and our community. Even if there are some bumps in the road, we will make it work,” Mrs. Thiel said. “If teachers are still able to come to school on the days I have planned we will still make Denim Days a reality. If not, the staff and I can always try and find a different charitable outreach.”