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Bentonville 1st grader's letter to Old Navy garners response, gift of jeans

by Mary Jordan | April 12, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
Kamryn Gardner, 7, a first-grader at Evening Star Elementary School in Bentonville, shows the bag of jeans she received from Old Navy Wednesday, April 7, 2021, as her mother, Kim Gardner, watches at the school. Kamryn wrote a letter to Old Navy about the lack of working pockets on girlÕs jeans. They responded by sending her several pairs with pockets she can use. Visit nwaonline.com/210408Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

BENTONVILLE -- Kamryn Gardner said she just wanted to be able to put her hands in her pockets to keep them warm.

Being able to carry candy or money in them would be convenient, too.

"If I'm hungry, I could just eat my candy," Kamryn said. "And if I run out of candy, I can use my money to buy more."

The Evening Star Elementary first-grader became frustrated with the lack of functional pockets on her pants, so she wrote Old Navy in January with the support of her mother.

"I do not like that the front pockets of girls jeans are fake," Kamryn wrote in the letter. "Would you consider making girls jeans with front pockets that are not fake."

The clothing company responded over spring break with a handwritten note and a gift of two pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts -- all with working pockets, Kamryn said.

"I was very excited, because I had jeans with real pockets," she said. Her favorite is a pair of denim shorts with tiny white and yellow flowers stitched on them and distressed patches of fabric, she said. "I've always wanted jeans that are like this."

The injustice of pockets on girls pants that are either ornamental or sewn shut motivated Kamryn to write the letter following some lessons at school in December and January on persuasive writing, said Ellie Jayne, Kamryn's teacher.

"The pockets on my brother's jeans are not fake," Kamryn said. "It's not fair."

Jayne said she's taught students how to format letters and to write persuasively in the past, but never with such a result. Typical letters would be by students asking parents for a special toy or the school principal for specific playground equipment, she said.

"Maybe a parent will buy their child a toy that they're asking for," she said of typical results.

Kamryn's mother, Kim Gardner, teaches first grade at Evening Star as well. She said she encouraged Kamryn to consider how she could effect change when she complained about the pockets.

She said Kamryn's initial instinct was to talk to employees at an Old Navy store.

"That's when she decided to write the letter," Gardner said. "We needed to contact the people who make the jeans."

The clothing company appreciates hearing from young people concerning their clothing designs, said Sandy Goldberg, a spokeswoman for Old Navy.

"Old Navy was founded with a manifesto that begins, 'Imagine the world runs right,' and we carry that spirit with us every day to deliver on the democracy of style for our customers and be a place where everyone belongs," Goldberg said.

Kamryn was excited to hear she may have caused Old Navy designers to rethink putting ornamental pockets on girls jeans.

"It's super cool," she said.

Kamryn was excited, but not surprised about the company's response, Jayne said, which is in keeping with the 7-year-old's personality.

"It says that she's confident and that maybe she doesn't see the world through the lens that we do of age limits," Jayne said.

Gardner said Kamryn learned her voice mattered through the experience, a lesson she hopes her daughter carries with her.

"I hope she keeps that determination and her confidence in speaking up and not being afraid," Gardner said. "I hope she keeps that going and can change more, because I know that she will."

Kamryn said she's apt to write more letters if she sees an injustice she feels could be changed. She encourages her classmates to do the same.

"I hope they are inspired by Kamryn and they know they can do anything they set their minds to do," Jayne said.

Kamryn Gardner, 7, a first-grader at Evening Star Elementary School in Bentonville, speaks Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at the school. Kamryn wrote a letter to Old Navy about the lack of working pockets on girl’s jeans. They responded by sending her several pairs with pockets she can use. Visit nwaonline.com/210408Daily/ for today's photo gallery. 
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
Kamryn Gardner, 7, a first-grader at Evening Star Elementary School in Bentonville, speaks Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at the school. Kamryn wrote a letter to Old Navy about the lack of working pockets on girl’s jeans. They responded by sending her several pairs with pockets she can use. Visit nwaonline.com/210408Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
Kamryn Gardner, 7, a first-grader at Evening Star Elementary School in Bentonville, shows one of the pairs of jeans she received from Old Navy Wednesday, April 7, 2021, as her mother, Kim Gardner, watches at the school. Kamryn wrote a letter to Old Navy about the lack of working pockets on girlÕs jeans. They responded by sending her several pairs with pockets she can use. Visit nwaonline.com/210408Daily/ for today's photo gallery. 
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
Kamryn Gardner, 7, a first-grader at Evening Star Elementary School in Bentonville, shows one of the pairs of jeans she received from Old Navy Wednesday, April 7, 2021, as her mother, Kim Gardner, watches at the school. Kamryn wrote a letter to Old Navy about the lack of working pockets on girlÕs jeans. They responded by sending her several pairs with pockets she can use. Visit nwaonline.com/210408Daily/ for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)
Evening Star Elementary School first-grader Kamryn Gardner, 7, wrote a letter to Old Navy in January asking them to make jeans with functional pockets.
Evening Star Elementary School first-grader Kamryn Gardner, 7, wrote a letter to Old Navy in January asking them to make jeans with functional pockets.
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Get inspired

Video lessons on persuasive writing for children are available online at nwaonline.com/creativewriting/ .

Source: Teaching Without Frills

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