Ten-year-old Jahkil Jackson makes sure his parents keep a stash of blessing bags — packages filled with socks, toiletries and snacks for homeless people — in the car at all times.
“He yells at us if we don’t,” his mom, Natae Jackson, told me.
“I also yell at them if they do,” Jahkil said. “I yell, ‘Pull over! We have to give them a bag!’”
Jahkil has been on a mission to help homeless men, women and children ever since his great-aunt brought him to Lower Wacker Drive to hand out chili and soup to the people camped out there. He was 5 at the time.
“That sparked something in him,” his mom said. “He would literally tear up when he would see someone who was homeless, trying to understand how that person got into that situation.”
Jackson and her husband, Jamiel, knew they had to help Jahkil, their only child, find a way to make a difference.
“He wants to buy everybody a house,” she said.
A realistic way to make a difference.
Blessing bags have fit the bill. And with the help of his friends, his fifth-grade classmates at Ray Elementary in Hyde Park, his beloved grandma Phyllis Smith and his other family members, Jahkil has created and distributed more than 3,000, so far.
His work just earned him national accolades.
Jahkil won a 2017 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a national award that goes to 25 young people making a positive difference in the world.
I asked him what he did when he heard the news.
“I went screaming all the way from my room and back to the living room,” he said. “I was really happy.”
The honor comes with $5,000 to put toward the recipient’s chosen cause. Jahkil’s will go to Project I Am, a nonprofit he helped establish to host events and raise money for blessing bags.
Jahkil also serves as a youth ambassador for Heartland Alliance, an international organization that works to alleviate poverty, and he sits on the youth council for WE, a nonprofit that encourages young people to serve their communities through volunteer work.
“I want to make sure people in need aren’t just unknown,” Jahkil told me. “I think homeless people — most people don’t recognize them and walk past them and drive past them. I want to let people know that homeless people are people too.”
I asked him what people say to him when he gives them blessing bags.
“They usually say, ‘God bless you’ or ‘Thank you’ or ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t turn into a bad person.’”
I adore this child.
When he’s not helping homeless folks, Jahkil plays basketball, tap dances and takes acting classes. He wants to be an NBA owner when he grows up.
“When I speak to other kids at schools and community centers,” Jahkil told the Barron Prize committee, “I always say, ‘Don’t wait until you are an adult to be great. You can be great now!’”
Thanks for showing us how, Jahkil.
Culled from : http://www.chicagotribune.com