For as long as she can remember, 13-year-old Legacy Jackson of St. Louis has been volunteering. Some of her earliest memories are of her volunteering with her parents at homeless shelters and soup kitchens.
“We have pictures of Legacy literally with a pacifier passing out food,” her mother Kynedra Ogunnaike said.
But every time Legacy went out to volunteer with her family, she noticed that most of the volunteers were adults, and she was often the only child there. So, wanting to see more kids get involved with community service, she started her own nonprofit organization called Little Legacies in 2016.
From creating a library of more than 2,000 books for a children’s home to sending 3,000 pairs of shoes to children in Africa, Little Legacies has completed a community service project every month, mobilizing around 200 volunteers, both young and old, with Legacy leading the way.
“One of my favorite projects was when we threw a princess party at the Gateway 180 shelter,” Legacy said. “The kids got to pick out a princess outfit, they got crowned, and we did some affirmations with the girls.”
“I think they were really excited because they ran up and gave me a hug,” she added. “The girls wore those dresses for like three weeks after we gave them to them.”
Other projects Legacy and her volunteers have done include cooking Thanksgiving dinner for people who are unhoused, donating diapers and other baby essentials to the St. Louis Crisis Nursery and hosting a shoe giveaway to help newly arrived migrants.
While many of Little Legacies’ projects have been focused on helping those who are unhoused or youth living in shelters, Legacy doesn’t discriminate in the causes she cares about. For example, she has helped protect birds by assembling and installing bird houses and she has helped people battling breast cancer by donating care packages.
“Whatever I see in the community, whatever I see in the moment, I make a little note in my head like, ‘Oh yeah, they need a library, so we’re going to give them a library.’ Or ‘They want to have a dance class, so we’re going to have a dance class,’” Legacy said. “With every project, I feel my mission that I’ve been sent down to earth for is being completed.”
In 2017, tragedy struck Legacy’s family when her older brother, Brendon Ogunnaike, passed away due to complications with type 1 diabetes. But even in that moment of hardship, she wanted to help other children learn how to cope with grieving while remembering Brendon’s life so she wrote a book titled “Bubbles for Brendon: Ways to Celebrate, Remember and Embrace the Memories of Your Loved Ones.”
With a severely high crime and murder rate, St. Louis has been ranked as one of the most dangerous US cities to live in. But seeing Legacy and other children have the heart and passion to help others makes Kynedra hopeful for the future.
“Children can actually change the world. That was Legacy’s goal and with every project that we do, I feel like that is actually happening. Seeing her inspire other people to get involved makes me really proud,” she said.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Legacy? Find local volunteer opportunities.
This post was written by Alicia Lee. Points of Light collaborates with voices from various writers to help tell inspirational stories of leadership, volunteerism and civic engagement. We recognize that there are many ways to be civically engaged, as outlined in the Points of Lights Civic Circle®, and we are grateful to our writers for helping us illustrate the impact of how everyday actions can change the world.