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Kids in the Spotlight: Learn more about 10 amazing kids and causes important to them

We're spotlighting some children going above and beyond for their charitable work.
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/ Source: TODAY

Our "Kids in the Spotlight" series aims to shine a light on kids going the extra mile for others.

Below are the stories of 10 individuals making a difference in their communities and beyond.

Jahkil Jackson

Age: 11

Chicago, Illinois

Jahkil Jackson of Illinois.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Jahkil Jackson started an organization called Project I Am three years ago to create awareness of homelessness and inspire youth to be involved in their communities. Through Project I Am, he has created and distributed “Blessing Bags” that have been distributed to over 20,000 people throughout the world. Jahkil has partnered with Heartland Alliance, Khloe Kares, WEInternational Youth Council, Nike’s Future Varsity Program, Dreams 4 Kids, and Chicago Hope to spread awareness of homelessness. He hopes to have enough resources to help people throughout the world.

“As a 6th grade student, I know how hard it is to be around other kids and to not have new or clean clothes. It contributes to not being able to focus in school, and kids getting bullied or teased. It is important to be kind to others and make a difference in our community because if we don’t take the lead to do it, who will?” -Jahkil Jackson

Michael Wren

Age: 11

St. Louis, Missouri

Michael Wren of Missouri.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Michael “Mikey” Wren is an 11-year-old entrepreneur and author. At 8, Mikey started Mikey’s Munchies Vending, a local vending machine company in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author of two books, "Mikey Learns About Business" and "Biz is a Wiz". Mikey has become a leader in his community by teaching financial education, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills to his peers. He hosted a community toy drive and collected over 425 toys that were donated to kids.

“It’s important for me to be a role model and let my light shine. As I let my light shine, I give others the permission to do the same.” -Michael Wren

Tamia Hawkins

Age: 12

St. Louis, Missouri

Tamia Hawkins of Missouri.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Tamia is inspiring kids in her community through her baking business by showing them that they don’t have to wait to start pursuing their dreams. She does a lot of community service with her mom, who organizes events to feed the homeless while providing clothes and personal hygiene products to those in need. Through her work in her community, she has started development programs to teach baking to kids in the inner city.

“It’s important to be kind to others because you never know what a person is going through in their personal life. They could be suffering at home or just having a bad day, so one kind act from someone could make a person’s day or even save their life.” -Tamia Hawkins

Gabriel Benitez

Age: 12

San Diego, California

Gabriel Benitez of California.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Gabriel works with the non-profit organization, Build a Miracle, to raise money to build homes for families in need in Tijuana, Mexico. He finished his first build last December with a team of 16 people. It takes $16,000 to build a fully furnished home for a family with running water and electricity. Gabriel is well on his way to his fundraising goal for his next home. When he goes to Mexico for a build they mix the cement, lay the foundation, and paint and furnish the house then surprise the families.

“It is important for me to be kind and make a difference in the world because we don’t realize that we have a lot that others don’t have. So, it’s our responsibility to give back.” -Gabriel Benitez

Michelle Moreno

Age: 8


Michelle Moreno of Florida.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Michelle helps people in her community get access to clean drinking water. She raised money for kids through a nonprofit called, Charity Water. She recently won the “Kid of Character” award at school for spreading kindness in her class. She works to make sure that kids always feel their best and are able to pursue their dreams.

“To make kids feel special I would encourage them to try new things and tell them that they can achieve their goals if you NEVER give up.” -Michelle Moreno

Ryan Hickman

Age: 9


Ryan Hickman of California.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Ryan has been leading beach cleans in his community. He knows that by recycling and keeping trash out of our oceans and landfills, it’s better for animals and the environment. Ryan has made t-shirts that he sells and donates 100% of the proceeds to Pacific Marine Mammal Center to help them with their service efforts. He spends his time volunteering with Recycle Across America.

“I would tell all the kids that every one of them is awesome in their own way and to follow their dreams. If a kid like me can do it, anyone can do it.” -Ryan Hickman

Havana Chapman-Edwards

Age: 8


Havana Chapman-Edwards of Virginia.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Since she was born, Havana has lived in 5 different countries and visited 25 countries because her parents are diplomats. When she moved back to the states two years ago she started a book club called Rhymers Are Readers #37books with her choir. Scholastic did a study this year that shows African American children have 37 fewer books in their homes than white children. She started donating books to her choir to encourage literacy and representation in literature. She has expanded her reach to schools in her community, and she raised over $20,000 to donate books and school supplies to girls at the Bakhita orphanage in Ghana.

“Educating girls is one of the best ways for communities to fight back. So my goal is to focus on teaching girls to read, donating books, and fighting for girls to stay in school.” -Havana Chapman-Edwards

Mari Copeny

Age: 11


Mari Copeny of MichiganMelissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Mari has made a huge impact in her community of Flint, Michigan, to aid their water crisis. She has raised over $250,000 to fix the water crisis and has given out over a million bottles of water. She has partnered with Pack Your Back, a nonprofit in Flint, for most of her service work. She has given over 1,000 toys, 15,000 stuffed backpacks, and 600 coats to the Flint community. Her main point of service is working to end the Flint Water Crisis.

“If I don’t help to save my community no one else will. I want kids to know that they can make a difference even as kids, and it’s important to be a good human and be kind.” -Mari Copeny

Isabella Davis

Age: 10

North Carolina

Isabella Davis of North Carolina.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Bella has worked to repair her community after Hurricane Florence. She went around her school to talk about the needs of the hurricane victims. She collected over 500 toothbrushes to give to the hurricane survivors. Bella works with Saving Grace K9's, a nonprofit that works to match service dogs with disabled veterans. In her free time, she does theater with Creative Drama in Clemmons, North Carolina.

“If I had unlimited clothes to give, I would go to the orphanage and donate clothes, then I would take them to the theater to make them feel special.” -Bella Davis

Franiya Tiffany

Age: 9


Franiya Tiffany of Florida.Melissa Sheets / KIDBOX

Franiya is the author of two books, "Love Your Art" and "How to be a Star Boss". She created the Love Your Art and Shine talent show, which gives kids an opportunity to shine and share their talents. This year, she encouraged others to give back through her Love Your Art and Give Back initiative to include others in their art. Beyond her passion for the arts, she works with a women’s shelter to collect clothes to be donated to the women and children.

“I believe that it’s important to help others people it’s better to be nice and make an impact to encourage others to do the same so the whole world can make a difference in their communities, too.” -Franiya Tiffany

Nominate a child in your life that's making a difference here.