Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Student Leaders Step Forward to Help Homeless Youth; I'm a Star Foundation Sets $50,000 Goal for Celebrity Basketball Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Student Leaders Step Forward to Help Homeless Youth; I'm a Star Foundation Sets $50,000 Goal for Celebrity Basketball Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

In 2013, Tabitha Cobb and fellow members of a Jacksonville youth leadership training program decided to spend much of their summer raising money for the almost 2,000 homeless youth in Duval County.

With the support of civic and business leaders, some of whom played in a celebrity basketball game, they brought in $20,000.

This year, the goal of the I'm a Star Foundation's student leaders is more than double that amount - $50,000 - and they are determined to hit the mark.

Fellow youth who have no place to call their own but in many cases still manage to make top grades deserve the support, said Cobb, 17, who will be a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School and is co-chair of the I'm A Star Foundation's planning committee.

"What really struck me was learning about how dedicated these kids are to school," she said. "There is no excuse. ... We have to help, whether it's as schoolmates or people in the community."

The centerpiece of the group's Jacksonville HELPS initiative is a Saturday basketball game, pitting local celebrities against Duval County high school players. Scheduled to play on the celebrity team are schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, Mayor Alvin Brown, Sheriff John Rutherford and members of the Jacksonville Giants professional team.

The same day, the group will hold a fundraising telethon at First Coast News.

Last year, there also was a talent show, but the committee decided to focus all its resources on the game. If they need another fundraising event to hit the $50,000 goal, they might hold a talent show later in the summer, Cobb said.

Betty Seabrook-Burney, founder and executive director of the foundation, said the student leaders are handling the bulk of the planning. They are soliciting and coordinating parent and student volunteers to man the telethon, sell advance tickets to the game and sell tickets and concessions at the game. …

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