WASHINGTON -- Some groups hold food drives to solve the hunger crisis. Others promote the wearing of wristbands to raise awareness about a particular cause. Now, one Maryland organization is collecting belts to solve the crisis of young men wearing low-slung pants.
The Washington Times reports that a juvenile diversion group called Take Charge (warning: video with music starts playing when page is opened) will be collecting new and gently used belts at 13 drop-off points in Prince George's County.
Why? From the Times:
Take Charge Executive Director Jerrod Mustaf said the goal of the belt drive is to "modify the culture of young people who believe it's cool to wear the pants that are sagging."
"When we look at positive role models in our community, you don't see any positive men dressing like this," Mr. Mustaf said. "That should tell you something."
Mustaf is a former University of Maryland basketball star who played for the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns. In 1998, he settled a wrongful death lawsuit in the 1993 murder of his pregnant girlfriend.
Since then, Mustaf has tried to repair his tarnished reputation, promoting street basketball and anti-gang initiatives and has been promoted as the special guest at an investment event called "Take Charge; Pay Yourself First!"
As for the belt collection campaign itself, DCist notes the somewhat unpromising history in the battle to eradicate sagging pants:
Prince George's County certainly isn't the first place in the country to fight sagging pants—in 2005, Virginia legislators debated fining people who showed their underwear $50. (The proposal never went anywhere.) In 2007, Dallas launched a campaign against sagging pants, which went national when it received Dr. Phil's endorsement.
While campaigning in 2008, President Obama said that sagging pants shouldn't be at the top of anyone's agenda: “Any public officials who is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there." Still, he interjected: “Having said that, brothers should pull up [their] pants.”
The Washington Times reports that Take Charge hopes to donate 500 belts to area schools, to what thus far appears to be a tepid reaction:
Briant Coleman, a spokesman for the county's public school system, said he doesn't think sagging pants are "an issue in our schools" because of the dress code.
"It's not widespread," Mr. Coleman said. If a student's pants are dropping too low, "we tell them to pull them up."