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State Honoree

Nijel Murray

Las Vegas, Nevada

Nijel Murray, 17, of Las Vegas, Nevada, a senior at Nevada State High School, founded a nonprofit organization that has provided new clothing and other items to more than a thousand foster children over the past three years to ease the trauma of being separated from their families, and to restore in them a measure of hope and dignity. Nijel was appalled when his new foster brother arrived at his home with only a garbage bag full of dirty and worn clothing. “I thought he must have felt worthless receiving clothes carelessly thrown into a garbage bag with no thought about him,” he said.

After learning how many foster children there are in the U.S. and in Clark County, Nevada, Nijel launched a nonprofit organization on his 14th birthday called “Klothes 4 Kids,” and asked his family to help him stuff duffel bags with new clothes, toiletries, books and toys for kids in foster care. Soon, friends began donating to his cause and volunteers offered to help. Nijel organized a community clothing drive for his 15th birthday, and has since received support from the Andre Agassi Foundation and an agency serving homeless teens. The contents of each duffel bag distributed by Nijel’s organization are tailored to the individual sizes and interests of the recipient. “We do not want the children to just wear the clothes,” he said. “We want them to enjoy them.” To that end, Klothes 4 Kids also has hosted a pop-up shop where teenagers in foster care could pick out whatever brand-new clothing they wanted.