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State Honoree

Jacob Kaskey

Ohio

initiated a coloring book and crayon drive called “Kids for Kids” to benefit homeless children staying at various shelters in the area. Jake became aware of this unique need during one of his regular visits to help serve meals at a homeless shelter. On a cool night, when the children could not play outside, they had nothing to do. “A toy could not be found for miles,” said Jake. When he mentioned the problem to his minister, Jake was told that lack of toys is a common problem at all the area shelters. So Jake decided to help, but rather than concentrate on toys, he decided to collect coloring books and crayons. “The shelters will not let children take toys away from the shelter, but they are allowed to take coloring books and crayons with them,” Jake said. He recruited classmates and others to help, wrote letters and made personal visits to area businesses asking for donations of money or coloring books – and received a strong response. Jake and his band of volunteers don’t just drop off the donations and leave. “We play with the children and serve them a meal too,” he said. Since being named a Prudential Spirit of Community honoree last February, Jake says his “Kids for Kids” project has really taken off. Local merchants have been calling him to donate items of all kinds, from coloring books to Beanie Babies. Church classes, local school districts, Key Clubs and scouting organizations also have contacted him about making donations. Even strangers in surrounding communities have been dropping off coloring books and crayons at his home and high school. Jake plans to continue his project and expand it so homeless children in more communities can color their world with fun.