Alpharetta teen's birthday event stuffs over 700 stockings for homeless families
ALPHARETTA, Ga. - An Alpharetta teen used his birthday to do something for others this year. Instead of asking for gifts, 17-year-old Jaden Young asked the community to help him collect donations for the homeless. Young started giving back when he was just 9 years old.
Young told FOX 5 his inspiration comes from his late cousin.
"Every year it just keeps getting bigger and better, and it's kind of amazing to me," Young said.
It was back in 2014 when Young first experienced what it meant to give back. His cousin, Kaylin Kares, spent her birthdays feeding the homeless.
"She put aside something for her birthday that's supposed to be for you, and she gave back. That speaks volumes to her character," said Young.
The event on Kares' 15th birthday was the last one she would participate in. Kares was killed in a car accident later that year. But now the event lives on through Young, who decided he would stuff stockings for the homeless. The event is called "Jaden's Hoops for Homeless Birthday Bash."
Young said every year the event gets bigger.
"I'm really proud that he's doing this, not only because it's his passion, but he's actually bringing awareness to other kids his age group to get involved as well," said Nicole Young, Jaden's mom.
This year, Jaden partnered with his school, Valor Christian Academy in Alpharetta, to host the event.
"When we met Jaden's family and heard his story and heard all about Hoops for Homeless, we knew immediately that this is a student that gets it," said Jennifer Gastley, head of school at Valor Christian Academy, "This is a student that knows how to lead by serving."
The stockings will benefit the Family of Promise of Forsyth, an organization that helps homeless families. Jaden's goal was to stuff 400 stockings, but he exceeded that goal by stuffing more than 700 stockings. The Family Promise of Forsyth said they have 650 families who are in need this holiday season.
"What we see with Jaden is someone that says, 'I'm going to take the lens off myself, and I'm going to look out in the community.'" said Gastley.