Local teens collect 30,000 water bottles for Mississippi

Member of the I'm A Star Foundation help collect water for residnets of Jackson, MS. (Tonya Austin, Tonya Austin)
Team members from the I'm A Star Foundation pose with some of the more than 30,000 bottles of water they collected to help residents of Jackson, MS. (Tonya Austin)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I’m A Star Foundation Teen Influencers, Duval County Public Schools and JaxParks collected a total of 30,161 bottles of water to send to Jackson, MS Sunday.

Jacksonville residents pulled up in their cars and dropped off packs of water at the Mississippi Water Drive at James Weldon Johnson Park.

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Teen volunteers from I’m A Star Foundation, 5,000 Role Models of Excellence, Raines High School Royal Court and Andrew Jackson High School Royal Court worked together collecting cases, passing out thank you cards and keeping a count.

Members of the I'm A Star Foundation and other volunteers help collect water for residents of Jackson, MS. at James Weldon Johnson Park in Downtown Jacksonville. (Tonya Austin)

Thanks to a generous donation by Farah & Farah, I’m A Star hired a Woman-Owned, Black-Owned Small Business trucking company, T&N Xpress, LLC, to deliver donations to Jackson.

I’m A Star Foundation Executive Director Betty Burney set an internal goal to collect 3,000 bottles. She said she and her students are overjoyed to have exceeded that goal by 10 times. She also highlighted monetary donations from McGowan Medical Centers ($500) and The Players ($5,000).

In response to a request from Jackson Public Schools, the organizations came together to collect and send clean water specifically to help children under age 6 and pregnant women who are at high risk for lead poisoning.

Mississippi health officials lifted a boil-advisory in the water crisis and Jackson city officials stopped the distribution of free bottled water. But state officials say lead in some pipes remains so worrisome that pregnant women and young children should still use bottled water.

There are 3,158 Pre-K and Kindergarten students in Jackson, MS.

More than 30,000 bottles of water were donated to help residents of Jackson, MS whose water is still not completely safe to drink following the shutdown of a water treatment plant this summer. (Tonya Austin)


I’m A Star Foundation is a volunteer program that transforms middle and high school students into the next generation of servant leaders. An acronym for “Smart, Talented and Resilient” students, the Foundation draws kids ages 12-18 from schools across Duval County. Students meet on weekends to creatively co-work on solutions to problems affecting their peers. Since its establishment in 2010, the organization has maintained a 100% graduation rate. Founder and Executive Director Betty Seabrook Burney is a former Duval Co. School Board Chairwoman. I’m A Star Foundation students have been featured in various press outlets, including The Huffington Post, ABC7Chicago and The Grio. For more information, please visit www.imastarfoundation.org.