AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) - Ken Jakubec has his hands in most events and activities around the Austintown area. His two passions are veterans and the schools. One of his oldest friends tells us he's a difference maker.
Ken served his country in the Marine Corps Air Wing and flew aboard Marine One. In fact, he had a special White House clearance -- above Top Secret.
But it's no secret who gets things done in the Austintown community.
"He does Patriot's Day down at Quaker Steak and Lube every September. The flags outside the school, he coordinated that effort and drove to Michigan to get the poles to save money," said Harold Porter, who nominated Ken for the Hometown Hero award.
Ken is very involved in the Austintown School District, from the Purple Heart Room to the plaque honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"Kenny spent about 20 years representing our schools on the board of education and that's huge when someone takes their own time to help our young people," said lifelong friend Jack Kidd.
Ken has always served, ever since his early days as a teenager selling Christmas trees for the Optimist Club.
You'll see Ken around the Valley this holiday season, picking up toys as the Toys for Tots coordinator. He hopes to surpass last year's donations.
"I have 29 people pick up at 212 spots out of the 240 because there's only six Marines at the base and they can't do that," Ken said. "In the warehouse, sorting 40,000 toys -- it's overwhelming. Last year, we helped 8,433 children in Mahoning and Trumbull County."
From his military background, Ken knows you're only as strong as the team around you. He motivates and leads by example.
"Just never stops," said Kristin O'Neill, a teacher at Austintown Fitch. "I've never seen anyone do as much as he does. He comes up with great ideas -- every meeting we have, he has the most amazing. He has so many resources, that we just have to ask Kenny and it's there."
Every day, Ken strives to do a few small things that make a big impact on those around him.
"I just think when the opportunity arises -- the people out there watching this -- lend a hand, help somebody," he said. "I do three things every day -- make somebody laugh, do something nice for somebody and say something nice to somebody."
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