Jake Gallin, 13, of New Rochelle, N.Y., a seventh-grader at Albert Leonard Middle School, founded an organization called Stars for Cars and has raised more than $12,000 for the United Service Organization (USO) by selling star-shaped magnetic car decals that honor families of soldiers who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Jake says his life changed the day he saw First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on a television show in 2011 discussing the need to recognize military families. Mrs. Obama reminded the audience that 1 percent of our country is protecting the other 99 percent, said Jake. This statistic compelled me to design a star-shaped magnetic decal in hopes of raising awareness of the sacrifices that these brave families make every day.
Jake sells his decals - which read We Support Blue & Gold Military Families- in person, on his website (starsforcars.org), at sporting events and through local businesses. After his first printing, the USO of Metropolitan New York contacted him and agreed to become his partner. Last summer, Jake expanded his efforts by sending more than 7,000 letters to New York state schools, school superintendents and government officials, urging them to make an announcement recognizing military members and their families on three days each year: Memorial Day, Patriot Day and Veterans Day. More than 100 schools have notified Jake that they intend to follow his recommendation. I hope I am having an impact on every single person who hears the announcement or sees a star decal on the car in front of them, said Jake.