At just 6 years old, Jonas Corona knew that he had a calling.

"I was brought up by my family to give back to community," he said. "I started out at 4 years old with them by giving clothing and food to homeless people on Skid Row in Los Angeles, and I've always liked doing that."

He said that he approached his parents with an idea to collect as many donations as possible of clothing, food and sanitary items to gift to those who need it most. His parents were on board, he said, and they helped him pitch the idea to his elementary school.

"He's done a lot with the community by collecting items and getting students, his peers, involved," Renee Corona, his mother, said. "It's evolved to not only helping the community on his own but creating opportunities for others to help too." 

Corona's reach with Love in the Mirror has only grown over time. Now at 16, He has been able to send donations to Los Angeles and Long Beach, and also they've taken a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, to pass out school supplies to students.

"One of the board members goes with a group that helps that town a lot and noticed they were lacking supplies for school," he said. 

Corona said that they hosted donation drives to collect school supplies like notebooks, pencils and calculators, as well as personal care kits, and then traveled to the town to personally give the items away.

And although he is still a teenager, Corona has received global recognition for his philanthropy thanks to Nickelodeon.

At 13, he was one of four youths selected for the Nickelodeon Helping and Leading Others (HALO) award, which is presented to outstanding teens and pre-teens who make positive impacts in their communities.

Apart from Love in the Mirror, Corona has a passion for tennis, he said. When he's not working with his nonprofit, he spends his free time on the court.

"My life consists of Love in the Mirror, tennis and school," he said. "So when I'm not on the court, I'm always busy with school or Love in the Mirror, and I enjoy it."

Corona's mother added that he has been able to balance school, the nonprofit and recreational activities just fine. If he ever were feeling overwhelmed or had too much to do, he has help from the Love in the Mirror board members.

"I think he balances it (the nonprofit and other activities) very well because he puts a lot of work into his tennis and school as well," Renee said. "We make sure that he is not overwhelmed with anything and he has a lot of support between board members and friends."

Corona said that his hopes for the nonprofit are to expand even further and help others in different states, and even countries.

"I want to help more people, that's it," he said. "I want to expand our reach and focus on more areas, expand our operations and open an office that we run operations through full time."

Love in the Mirror is hosting a Christmas toy drive through Friday, Dec. 13. The goal is to collect 1,000 toys to give away to area youth that Sunday, Dec. 15.

People can bring unwrapped toys and gifts to designated drop off sites. Call 562-433-5100 for site locations.

For more information about Love in the Mirror, or to make a donation, go to loveinthemirror.org.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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