TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Steinbrenner High School Senior quit playing sports to focus his free time on giving back to the Tampa Bay community.

Langston ‘Myles’ Burkes, 18, is a senior at Steinbrenner High School. When he’s not at school, Burkes touches the lives of many students and families throughout our community.

“It gives me that happiness I felt I was looking for for a while,” Burkes said.

Burkes has been playing sports since he was in elementary school. He played football and eventually started playing basketball.

“I am realistic,” Burkes said. “I knew I wasn’t going to play in college or be a professional, so I wanted to find a different passion I was not only successful with but enjoyed.”

Burkes had that realization two years ago. That’s when he joined Steinbrenner’s Black Student Union. He’s served as the president for the past two years.

Myles Burkes, President of Steinbrenner High School’s Black Student Union delivers donations to local organizations.

“Our goal is to provide an environment for people like me, people who look like so they can feel comfortable in their own skin,” Burkes said.

He began volunteering with the organization. However things truly changed during his 2022 summer internship at the public defender’s office in downtown Tampa.

“I would go out to lunch downtown, every day, and I would see the homeless people and it definitely impacted me,” he said.

Burkes went to his mom to let her know he wanted to help. Together they created lunches and Burkes delivered those lunches to the downtown homeless citizens every day on his lunch break. That summer of giving sparked a new passion for giving back. He wanted to focus on minority and low-income communities, so him and his mom called Potter Elementary to see if he could volunteer there.

Myles Burkes donates homemade meals to homeless citizens in Downtown Tampa.

“I talked with him and mom, but Myles was so adamite,” Trae Gentle said. “I might have lost an email here or there and they were like, we’re here Mr. Gentle don’t forget us. I was like, this young man is different.”

Gentle is the community resource teacher at Potter Elementary. He’s been working with Burkes over the past year and helping coordinate service projects with Burkes and Steinbrenner BSU students.

Over the past year, Burkes has participated in dozens of service projects. Burkes taught STEM to students, led a Christmas donation drive for families by donating 161 gifts, donated music instruments to Potter’s drumline, participated in the African-American Read In and more.

Burkes also created his own initiative during Black History Month by doing a virtual read-in with minority students in elementary and middle schools. At the end of the month, he donated books written by Black authors to the schools that participated.

“He doesn’t know it but every footstep he takes on this campus, he’s sewing a seed because someone sees him as a manurable young man that looks like them,” Gentle said.

Potter Elementary is a Title One school where 77% of students are Black and 17% are Hispanic. It’s a stark difference from the schools Burkes attended.

“I live in a predominately white neighborhood, so elementary, middle and high school I’ve been the only Black kid in the classes,” Burkes said. “Coming to a school like this and seeing the whole school basically with people that look like me, it’s motivating for me to help them because I can see myself in them.”

Burkes said he doesn’t take giving back to these students and families for granted.

“In the grand scheme of things my problems aren’t really anything,” Burkes said. “It’s a good reminder how blessed I am to be in the position I am to give to other people.”

Burkes was recognized during Volunteer Appreciation Month by Potter Elementary staff and Hillsborough County School District officials. He said the recognition is a true honor.

Burkes attributes his love for giving to his mother.

“She’s a very caring person, she’s a giver,” Burkes said. “I’ve been giving and volunteering my whole life, but to do it on my own now is special.”

Burkes hopes to leave an everlasting legacy.

“My main goal is to bring other people closer to God,” he said. “I feel like God put me on this planet to help other people. “I think my legacy will have something to do with finding the best in difficult situations.”

Burkes currently has a 4.9 GPA. He will graduate from Steinbrenner at the end of this school year. After graduation, he will move to Gainesville to attend Sante Fe College. He aspires to be a Corporate Attorney.