Shulman: Can you tell me about Project I Am? What is it all about and why did you start it?
Jackson: Project I Am is my organization that my family helped me start about two years ago. I started it because I wanted to do something to bring awareness to homelessness. My organization creates and gives out Blessing Bags to the homeless and those in need.
Shulman: What are Blessing Bags and what do you put in them for the homeless?
Jackson: Blessing Bags are blessings in a bag! They are full of toiletry items like soap, tissue, toothpaste, toothbrushes, socks, lotion, and hand sanitizer. These are basic things that can help the homeless on a daily basis.
Shulman: How many bags have you given away so far?
Jackson: In 2016, my goal was to give out 1,000 bags, and I gave out 1,627! In 2017, my goal was to give out 5,000 bags, and I am proud to say I went over my goal and gave out over 6,000 bags including 250 in Los Angeles. Some of those bags were sent to hurricane victims in Florida, Houston, and Puerto Rico.
Shulman: Where do you get the resources to fill the bags?
Jackson: Many people have donated actual toiletry items, and some donate money to my website so that I can go to the stores to buy the items myself. Schools and businesses that have run toiletry item drives at their locations have been a tremendous help, too.
Shulman: Have you given Blessing Bags away to those who need them outside of Chicago? If so, where?
Jackson: Yes, in partnership with the Simeon Basketball Team, I sent bags to hurricane victims Puerto Rico. I also shipped bags to hurricane victims in Houston thanks to a sponsorship by Fox 32 Chicago. Lastly, I sent bags to Florida hurricane victims.
Shulman: What is it like to be a young social entrepreneur?
Jackson: It makes me happy and proud to be a social entrepreneur; I enjoy seeing smiles on faces of those I can help. It is a lot of hard work, but the smiles make it all worth it.
Shulman: How does your school support you?
Jackson: My school did a toiletry item drive for me to help reach my goal of 5,000 blessing bags in 2017.
Shulman: You’re also working with Dreams for Kids and their social entrepreneurship program. How is that going for you and what have you learned so far?
Jackson: I am excited about this program because I look forward to learning new things in business. The biggest thing that I have learned so far is not to let anyone hold me back. The lessons are interesting, so I hope to learn a lot by the time I complete the course.
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