“I want to let people know that homeless people are people too”.
Those were the words of Jahkil Naeem Jackson about two years ago when he began doing wonders and impacting lives across the globe.
Now 12 years old, Jackson, from Chicago, Illinois, is a business-minded youngster with the love for humanity.
The social entrepreneur is on a mission to help the homeless in Chicago and throughout the world. He’s a student, an actor, a tap dancer, a basketball player, and a model.
After helping his aunt distribute food to the Chicago homeless, Jackson had a heartfelt desire to help those in need. He wanted to do more to make a difference so he created “Project I Am” when he was only 8 years old.
Through Project I Am, Jackson started creating awareness of homelessness and he began helping the homeless population by offering them what he calls ‘Blessing Bags’, a giveaway filled with wipes, socks, deodorant, hand sanitizer, granola bars, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bottled water, and more.
At age of 10, he started his own business and he’s already given out over 6,000 Blessing Bags, according to reports. His efforts, alongside support from his family and friends, have touched over 35,000 men, women and children across the world.
Whilst he was five years, Jackson taught himself how to crochet watching YouTube videos. Today, he has been described as a “crocheting prodigy” with his own crochet business called ‘Jonah’s Hands’ based in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
“After a very hard, busy, chaotic day in this busy world with school, it’s just nice to know that I can come home and crochet in my little corner of the house while sitting by the one I love most: my mom,” he tells NPR.
According to him, so far his most difficult design was crocheting a blanket with 800 plush flowers on it.
His beautiful crocheting has pushed him to stardom with over 230,000 followers on Instagram where he sells his goods. His customer base grew rapidly that at some point, he was receiving over 4,500 orders monthly.
His account is managed by his mother, Jennifer Larson, who leaves Jackson to decide what he does with his profits. Jackson often donates some of his goods and proceeds to the Ethiopian orphanage from which he was adopted as an infant.
“I don’t buy his yarn for him. He buys his own yarn from the profits he makes from selling,” Jennifer Larson says. “He saves some money, he’s investing some money and he donates as well. So those are things I think are important in life for adults to do, and I’m glad that he can learn that at an early age.”
“By age 11, people around the world noticed my crochet abilities both in complexity and my speed. I am currently designing my own items, giving back to the community and spreading the love of crochet around the world. I call my business Jonah’s Hands because every piece of work is touched by my hands,” he says.
Former President Barack Obama honored Jackson’s work on Twitter and in-person.
“He simply likes to make beautiful items,” his mother said. “He enjoys the smiles on people’s faces when he gifts them an item he designed himself. As Jonah says, crochet brings the world together one stitch at a time.”
Jackson has also created a nonprofit named ‘Roots Ethiopia’ which works to improve schools, educate children and enable livelihoods in underserved communities throughout the country. He’s also launched fundraisers to support the development of a STEM lab and library at an Ethiopian school.
The philanthropic pre-teen is an aspiring surgeon. He hosts several crocheting workshops, as well as speaking engagements. He has authored a book titled “Hello, Crochet Friends!: Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy”.
Forbes describes him as “a role model for other kids, a gift to those in need, and a young businessman who is going places.”
He has also provided Blessing Bags to orphans in Mbabane, Swaziland, as well as volcano victims in Guatemala, and hurricane survivors in Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
In 2016, he was named a Youth Ambassador for Heartland Alliance. In 2017, he became a member of the WE International Youth Council. The following year, Jackson became the youngest member of the Independent Youth group. He participated in Disney’s Be Inspired Black History Campaign and Lebron James’ #AlwaysBelieve 2018 campaign.
Jackson was recently voted Vice Chairman of the 2019 KidBox Youth Board of Directors, named one of BET‘s 15 under 15 and is a CNN 2019 Young Hero.
Jackson says he is a businessman, and he wants to own his own NBA Team. “So I have a lot of work ahead of me. I am already working on plans to make sure this happens. When I grow up, I want to be a part of the solution to end homelessness and help the underserved in this country,” he says.