By: Jan Engoren Contributing Writer
It all started with a Moonjar, a children’s bank that teaches kids to save, spend and share. When Jett and Stone Sacks, were 4-years-old, their parents Barbara and Mark Sacks of Boca Raton, gifted them with this bank.
This is their earliest memory of giving back, as they donated their share proceeds to the Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County.
Now 18 and students at St. Andrews School in Boca Raton, the fraternal twins have continued their charity work by founding the Compete2Give club and non-profit, which raises money for charities and engages other students in the process.
“We’re very proud of Stone and Jett,” said mom, Barbara Sacks. “They had an idea and stepped in to help. Our focus has evolved from raising money to getting more kids involved. When kids participate in these charity events they feel so fulfilled. It’s very rewarding and is a win/win situation for both givers and receivers.”
To-date the club has branched out to a number of other high schools, including Spanish River, Olympic Heights, West Boca, Boca High, Pine Crest and North Broward Preparatory Schools.
Students earn community service hours and build relationships with the children whose lives they’ve impacted.
They have partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County to assist with its neighborhood revitalization projects.
“We’re grateful for the partnerships and continued support of our mission that Compete2Give has shown us,” said James McLelland, resource and marketing manager for Habitat for Humanity.
Compete2Give has been selected to run the new Florence Fuller Basketball Enrichment Center in West Boca Raton. Every Friday Compete2Give will provide a coach for team sports events using students from each participating school to assist in providing a learning experience for the kids at the center.
Once a month they host an arts and crafts activity where they provide all of the items to create projects such as tie-dye T-shirts and jewelry.
In addition to the Florence Fuller Center and Habitat for Humanity, the charity has worked with the Wayne Barton Study Center, Special Spaces and Love Serving Autism, a non-profit which teaches tennis to children and adults with autism spectrum disorders.
Lisa Pugliese, founder and CEO of Love Serving Autism, said, “Compete2Give empowers young volunteers to make a difference in the community. They provided buddies and role models for our kids with autism.”
“Barbara is a great model for her two sons, Stone and Jett, and now they are great role models for our kids,” Pugliese said. “They are modeling for other high school students how to step outside of themselves to be leaders and why that is important.”
In August, the charity held its “Back to School Jam” at the Wayne Barton Study Center in Boca Raton and provided over 1,600 pairs of sneakers to under-resourced kids. Compete2Give student volunteers helped with distributing backpacks and school supplies for kids in need.
Wayne Barton, Founder & CEO of the charity that bears his name said, “Compete2Give brought a lot of sweat equity and a lot of manpower to our back to school event. I can’t begin to say how much I appreciate their efforts.”
“They gave up their Saturday mornings to make life fortunate for those less fortunate,” Barton said. “In addition, they got the chance to bond with kids they might not meet otherwise. They reached across the table and became a huge blessing for our population.”
Barton was effusive in his comments about the Sacks family. “Barbara is great,” he said. “She’s always eager to help out with projects and is always calling and asking what else they can do.”
Barton says both groups benefit.
“It’s a two-way experience,” he said. “These two groups of kids from different cultural and societal backgrounds get to know each other and have fun together. It provides a lifetime of experience for them both.”
Other events have included teaming up with Habitat For Humanity and Home Depot to help revitalize The Wayne Barton Center, offering volunteers for Veg Fest Boca Raton last January and organizing a car wash to raise money for Breaking The Chains Outreach Ministry and for families of victims from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, PA, after the shooting in Oct. 2018.
Now that the clubs have spread to more local high schools, people are reaching out to them. An angel investor is matching dollar for dollar the money they raise.
Stone and Jett, now in their senior year at St. Andrews, will be making plans for college next year. Stone hopes to combine his interests in marketing and social entrepreneurship and both kids are looking to Duke University, University of Texas or New York University.
Since 7th grade, each summer the twins have been attending college-level business courses.
Jett plays on the school’s varsity tennis team, surfs and is part of the student government.
Stone, who also plays tennis and ran varsity track and field last year, enjoys body building and spends significant time each day at the gym.
“When our parents first brought us to the Boys & Girls club to donate our savings, I didn’t see the value at first,” remembers Stone Sacks. “But as we got older and entered middle school, we saw that it is not that difficult to make an impact on our community. Through hard work, determination and having a good team around us, it’s very rewarding to see that our work can have a positive effect on the people in our community.”
With a motto of “Get in the Game of Giving to Others,” the twins hope to continue their philanthropic work and after they graduate and establish branches on college campuses as well.
Visit compete2give.org for more information.