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Project Jamail donates collection to deserving students

Published: Thu, March 24, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.


The Vindicator (Youngstown)

Shirlene Hill, Johnson’s mother, spoke to the students about remembering to help others, just like her son. In the background is her husband, Sidney Hill.


The Vindicator (Youngstown)

Jerome Harrell, left, principal of Wilson Middle School, Youngstown, presents a pair of shoes to eighth-grader Jonathon Flores. The shoes were presented Wednesday to several students by the family members of Jamail Johnson, who was killed Feb. 6 at a shooting a home near Youngstown State University. Johnson, 25, a YSU student had served as a mentor at the school.

By Denise Dick



The family of a Youngstown State University student killed last month at an off-campus party is keeping his memory and spirit of giving back alive.

Jamail Johnson, who was to graduate from YSU this spring, was shot and killed Feb. 6, while ushering others away from the gunfire. Johnson, who worked at Foot Locker, tutored students at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in reading and math in his spare time.

After his death, Johnson’s family — his mother and step-father, Shirlene and Sidney Hill, and brothers, Bruce Alexander and Sidney Hill Jr. — established Project Jamail, a program to donate the late mentor’s collection of more than 100 athletic shoes to Wilson students.

“I know it’s something that Jamail would have wanted,” said his mother, of Liberty. “I always raised Jamail that when you’re able to give back, to give back. Don’t forget where you came from.”

To be eligible for the shoes, students have to demonstrate improvement in attitude, grades and behavior, said Dan Smith,

behavior-intervention coordinator at the school.

Recipients also must be known as peacemakers, exemplify leadership and show respect to staff, students and self, Hill said.

Five students will be chosen from those who meet the criteria each month to receive the shoes.

Wednesday marked the first giveaway, and Principal Jerome Harrell called it a special day.

Eighth-graders Braylin Smith, Dominic Hoffman, Kenneth Cunningham, Joseph Dawson and Jonathan Flores earned the shoes.

Dominic, 15, said he picked his pair because of the color. Kenneth, 15, picked a pair of Jordans from Johnson’s collection.

“I’ve never had a pair of these in my life,” Kenneth said.

He said those who received Johnson’s shoes had to be role models for other students.

Joseph, 14, said they also had to be leaders. Joseph was one of the students who Johnson tutored in math and said Johnson helped him understand some math concepts with which he had struggled.

Receiving a pair of his tutor’s shoes means a lot,

Joseph said.

Jonathan, 15, said it feels good to know that he did something well.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17, attended Wednesday morning’s ceremony and told the students that they have an obligation to help keep Johnson’s spirit alive.

“You are capable of great things, and this community expects you to do great things,” Ryan said.

Hill said she plans to maintain the relationship with the school that her son started, volunteering and helping out when she’s not working.

“It takes a community to raise a child, and we forget that,” she said. “It’s not just one person, it’s the whole community. I think when we took prayer out of schools, we did a disservice to our children.”

Hill learned after her son’s death about the impact that he had on many students at Wilson. It didn’t surprise her, though.

“That’s how Jamail was raised,” she said.


1Morrigan(83 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

What a wonderful legacy for Jamail. His good works continue on in his name. It's easy to see he where he got his giving nature from. Thank you, Mrs. Hill.

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2Spri2008(44 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

This is all still so sad. I'm glad people on Vindy are not trying to trash his name like the comments on WKBN. This really is a good thing to do.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

" I think when we took prayer out of schools, we did a disservice to our children.”

Yes indeed ! We freed them from morality . Today we reap what was sown .

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4cbrandon(22 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

How in the heck can he afford 100 pairs of shoes? A typical pair of Nikes is around $100, I'll say $55 with discount.

$55.00 x 100 = $55,000 !!!!!!!!!!!!!! This cat had to be involved with some shady stuff!

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5youngstownnative(1 comment)posted 4 years, 8 months ago


$55 x 100 pairs of shoes = $5,500
Sorry to disappoint. This is what is wrong with our school system!

But that's not the point here. Before you go making accusations about a good person, the least you could do is check your math and check yourself.

You would have to be an ugly person to make that type of comment on what is truly a positive article.

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

R1200GS :
I drop in to THE VINDY on my break . It helps me to relax . Morality without religion is like a car without gas .

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7mauzy006(14 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

@ cbrandon you ignorant SOB so because he had more pair of shoes than your whole family combined he was in shady stuff? Is called SWAGG you bum! Diddnt he work at a shoe store? Learn how to count first, then How about u stop pocket watching n worring about other peoples finances! 1 things for shure your not the brightest crayon in the box o n FYI he was tutoring n math maby u should have been front row LOL u should feel as idiotic as the statement u made JACK A$$!..

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8cbrandon(22 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

whatever. 5,500 is still a crapload for nike ghetto thug shoes. dumb gangsters should all have guns and wipe each other out.

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