He’s only 10, but Jahkil has helped to feed more than 7,000 people in need!
After helping to feed the homeless with his aunt, young Jahkil Jackson wanted to do more . . .
Jahkil Jackson will never forget that day when he was five and his GreatAunt Ernestine brought him along to help feed the homeless in downtown Chicago.
His eyes wide, Jahkil watched quietly as Ernestine handed out containers of chili and chicken noodle soup to people in torn jackets and scuffed shoes. And that evening, Jakhil innocently asked his mom, Na-tae, “They ate it right there! How come they didn’t take it home?”
“Oh, sweetie. They don’t have homes,” she answered, and when Jahkil asked why, Na-tae explained, “Sometimes things just happen.”
Jahkil’s brow furrowed with sadness. But then, he had an idea.
“Mama, can we buy them houses?” Na-tae’s heart ached. “I’m afraid we don’t have that much money,” she explained.
“We’re lucky to have plenty to eat and a nice place to live,” Jakhil told his pup, JJ. But it didn’t seem fair that some did not. So when, a few days later, Jahkil and his mom were stopped at a red light and spotted a man with a “Will work for food” sign, Jakhil blurted, “I know we can’t buy him a house, but can we give him some money for food?”
Nodding, Na-tae reached for her purse.
“Bless you, young man,” the stranger said as Jahkil passed him several bills.
It happened again a few days later when they stopped at a drive-thru for burgers.
“Can we get three? One for me, and two for those people standing over there?” Jakhil asked.
If we keep this up, we’ll run out of money ourselves! Na-tae thought, but she was proud of her little boy’s generosity. So when she learned her friend Cydni was making bags of necessities to take to shelters, she told Jahkil, “Let’s stop at the dollar store and buy something to put inside.”
Jahkil raced up and down store aisles until he found the perfect items: socks and toothbrushes. “That way, they can keep their feet warm, and brush their teeth after Aunt Ernestine brings them food!” he beamed.
Still longing to do more, Jahkil asked his friends to bring things like soap and shampoo to his birthday party instead of toys for him. They put together a hundred “Blessing Bags,” tucking a handwritten note in each one: Take care of yourself. We love you! Then Natae and Jakhil’s dad, Jamiel, brought him downtown to pass out his Blessing Bags.
“Thank you. You’re such a nice boy!” smiled one woman wearing three sweaters to stay warm.
Jahkil felt so happy knowing he’d helped, he wanted to keep giving out bags. So a month later, Jahkil sent out plastic bags to his classmates with notes inviting them to donate— and got so many back, he couldn’t carry them all in one trip!
The family continued hosting “bag parties” for friends to help pack them. And today, Jahkil, now 10—who has created the I Am Project, a nonprofit to raise money and donations for the homeless—has given out over 7,000 Blessing Bags to homeless folks. Last fall, Jahkil even won the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. “I’m so happy!” Jahkil screamed as he ran through the house—because the honor comes with $5,000.
“This way, I can help so many others!” he beams. “I just want everyone to realize homeless people are people, too. And I want kids to know they don’t have to wait until they’re grown up to be great. You can be great right now!”
— Bill Holton
“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” John F. Kennedy