Jillian Maxwell, a sophomore at Benton High School and the reigning Miss Louisiana High School America 2018, reads “Billy Bully” to first graders at Apollo Elementary. (By Amanda Simmons/Bossier Press-Tribune)

Jillian Maxwell is in the business of making a difference.

The 15-year-old sophomore at Benton High School has taken her passion for volunteering and charity work and turned it into a business venture that will raise funds and awareness for various causes. The mission behind Silly Socks by Jilly is to pair fun, fashion, and quality socks with fundraising efforts for some of her favorite charities.

“I love socks and working with charities so I decided to combine the two,” Maxwell said. “In Bossier, there wasn’t a product like this, or a business where you can buy fashionable socks made locally.”

Maxwell comes up with the design ideas herself and works with companies in the U.S. to produce the socks. Her first sock was designed with an anti-bullying message. Maxwell is working with the United Federation of Teacher’s Be B.R.A.V.E. Against Bullying Program so that for every pair of socks that is sold, an anti-bullying book will be donated to a local elementary school.

“I believe if we can teach kindness, respect, acceptance and understanding of others early, there will be less and less bullying as these kids move to middle and high school,” Maxwell said.

So far, Maxwell has sold enough socks to give books to each Kindergarten and first grade classroom in the district. Maxwell delivered the first set of books to Apollo Elementary last week, reading “Billy Bully” to a group of first graders while she was there.

Governor Jon Bel Edwards has proclaimed March 1 as “Be B.R.A.V.E. Day” in Louisiana in recognition of Maxwell’s national platform as the reigning Miss Louisiana High School America 2018.

At Benton High, Maxwell is in the AIM (gifted) program, Student Council representative, member of Interact, SADD, and a member of the Varsity Cheer squad. She is also very active in the community, volunteering at Bossier City Animal Control, Ninna’s Road to Rescue, the Red River Revel, Out of Darkness Walk, Susan G. Komen Race, Up with Downs Buddy Walk, and Carnival for a Cause benefiting the Gingerbread House. She is also an advocate of raising awareness of Usher’s Syndrome.

Maxwell is the first student member of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce.

After graduation, she plans on attending LSU at Baton Rouge to pursue a degree in Marketing and be a member of their cheer squad.

To purchase your own pair of socks, visit www.sillysocksbyjilly.com. Silly Socks by Jilly is also on social media – @sillysocksbyjilly on Instagram or on Facebook at facebook.com/sillysocksbyjilly.

By Amanda Simmons