A group of teens is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and national awareness for the growing problem of student homelessness in one Florida county.
Teen servant leaders, ages 13-18, in I’m A Star Foundation presented a check for $30,000 before the Duval County Public School Board Nov. 7, totaling $126,500 raised since their grassroots mission began. They’ve garnered the attention of celebrities like Magic Johnson, Lil Duval and Simone Biles through their annual Jacksonville HELPS (Homeless Students Empowered through Leadership, Partnership & Service) Celebrity Basketball Game benefiting homeless students.
I’m A Star kids came up with the basketball game as a fundraising idea in 2012, after learning nearly 1900 students in their schools were considered “homeless” because of living conditions. Today, the number has grown to more than 3,000 school-aged children living temporarily with relatives, in shelters, in hotels, cars or on the streets.
An acronym for “Smart, Talented And Resilient” students, I’m A Star Foundation Executive Director Betty Burney says it’s about students reaching their potential through helping each other.
“I want them to know the essence of leadership is service to mankind,” says Burney.
I’m A Star Foundation donated all money raised to the Duval County Families in Transition Department, which provides resources such as rental, doctor and school fees to students without stable homes during the year. The money also goes towards scholarships for homeless students aspiring for college.