Young Chicago Activists Teams Up With Nike For Special Community Service Day
BY KATHERINE NEWMAN
In many ways, Jahkil Jackson is a typical 11-year-old boy but where he stands out from the crowd is through his dedication to community service. Three years ago, Jackson founded Project I Am, a non-profit organization that works to build awareness of homelessness and to help the homeless population in Chicago and across the world.
“Project I Am is an organization that I started when I was 8 years old. I build awareness to homelessness and provide blessing bags filled with toiletry items that can help those in need on a daily basis.” said Jackson.
As a young child, Jackson remembers seeing homeless people on the street with nowhere to go and wondering what could be done to help them?
“I once went with my aunt to give meals to homeless people sleeping on the ground with dirt, rats, and garbage. I was 5 years old and I did not understand why they were out there Ever since then, I have really wanted to help out. Because we couldn’t give them all homes the way I wanted, my family helped me figure out what I could do to help. I decided to do toiletries instead of food because lots of people do food, and I wanted to do something that would last a little longer,” said Jackson.
Through Project I Am, Jackson creates what he calls Blessing Bags and distributes them to those in need. The bags contain things like wipes, socks, deodorant, hand sanitizer, granola bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottled water, and whatever else the organization that can get access to that fulfills a need for homeless individuals.
Over just a few short years, Project I Am has been able to reach over 20,000 men, women, and children across the world and Jackson has been able to distribute Blessing Bags to homeless individuals in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Virginia, and Idaho.
He has also provided Blessing Bags to orphans in Mbabane, Swaziland, as well as volcano victims in Guatemala, and hurricane survivors in Florida, Houston, and Puerto Rico, according to the Project I Am website.
In early February, Jackson teamed up with Nike to kick off Black History Month by hosting a community service day at the Louis L. Valentine Boys & Girls Club on the south side of Chicago. During the event, participants helped Jackson assemble Blessing Bags which were later distributed to an organization that focuses on women living with AIDS, the tent city on Roosevelt Rd., and the Olive Branch Mission, according to Jackson.
“I celebrate Black History every day I am alive, not just February. I learned early on that I had to figure out history about my ancestors outside of school because they don’t teach us much. It is very important to give back because no one is alone in this world, we have to help one another and not let people fall and be forgotten,” said Jackson.