Feb. 19, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

When Avery Jukes returned from an 11-day mission trip to Uganda last June, he knew his work helping the underprivileged children he had met during the journey was far from over.

The Butler Bulldog discovered his cause when a teacher had students attend an informational meeting for the organization Ambassadors for Children last year.  The not-for-profit group is dedicated to serving children around the world through short-term humanitarian service trips and sustainable programs, and the Butler chapter of the organization was planning to raise money to build a school in Uganda, and then assist in building it.

The project peaked Jukes’ interest – he loves to travel and experience different places, and the mechanical engineering major was attracted to the building aspect of the trip – plus, it was for a good cause.  He and 11 other volunteers raised over $35,000 for the school over the course of several months leading up to the trip last summer.

In addition to helping to clear the land for the school – named the Building Tomorrow Academy of Kiyamba, which is located in the Kiboga district of Uganda -- Jukes and the others also visited schools and other charity organizations and hosted a medical clinic for dozens of patients.

“They don’t have a lot over there, so when you make an impact on their lives when you make them smile and play with the kids.  It’s a great feeling to impact other peoples’ lives in a big way.”

The trip’s profound effect on Jukes kept him in search of a way he could continue to help the children in Uganda.  He finally thought back to a 20-year-old man he met who could not finish secondary school (high school) because he did not have enough money to pay for it.

“I was trying to think of ways to help kids like him, and so I started my own foundation to provide financial aid for children attending secondary school in Uganda so they can finish and maybe go to college and better themselves,” said Jukes.

The junior from Snellville, Ga., created the Jukes Foundation for Kids, which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving children in the United State and Uganda by participating in projects that will enrich the lives of underprivileged children, as well as providing financial support for the young citizens of Uganda.

The foundation was officially formed in October 2008, and its’ first event was a book drive to benefit the children at the Building Tomorrow Academy, and was held in conjunction with Readers Day at the Butler men’s basketball game against Wis.-Milwaukee Jan. 24.  Fans received $5 off the price of a ticket if they donated a new or gently-used children’s book for the foundation.  With help from the school’s Sports Marketing department, over 2,000 books were collected and Jukes is hoping to personally deliver them this summer in Uganda.

Jukes also plans to have other drives for toys, clothes and shoes, and would like to hold a banquet-style fundraiser for the foundation that will include the whole Butler community.

“I’ve gotten help from almost everywhere,” said Jukes.  “People that I’ve never talked to have helped me, people that I know have helped me and introduced me to other people that have helped me.  A lot of people have been very supportive.”
Jukes, who is averaging 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 23 games played this season, has created a web site for the foundation - http://www.jukesfoundationforkids.org