Gifts for Kids

Gifts 4 Kids 2010

Justice Works! Nova High School

Free books, free hats, free stuffed animals, free fun, free clothing, school supplies, and free toys!  
This is what many families took with them after they had a fun-filled day at Gifts for Kids, December 11, 2010.

NOVA High School played an essential role in making all this happen for more than 300 kids.  As one of the many social justice projects that NOVA High school engages its students and staff in, Gifts for Kids has been an event which over 100 students have had the opportunity to participate in.

  Vance Bartley          

This was the Third Annual Gifts for Kids event that NOVA High School has co-sponsored with Justice Works!   This event had its birthing in 2008, when Justice Works! member Vance Bartley and NOVA teacher Joleen Franklin connected to design an event that would bring families with incarcerated members  together.  Vance, an ex-three striker, created the Gifts for Kids idea when he was still incarcerated.  He wanted families to come and enjoy a day full of festivities, activities, and gift giving. 

This year’s event hosted 18 activity centers, a stage full of entertainment, gifts of clothing and toys, and a community meal.  The students in Joleen Franklin’s classes planned out each activity center, decorated, and staffed the various activities.  This kind of social justice learning allows students to be connected and more intimate with injustices faced by many people in our society and the hardships that come with these injustices.  It makes their experience real and meaningful as more than 400 people depend on their work. 


Students also are engaged in many of the more mundane tasks of putting on a large event.  This included things like setting up, counting materials, making signs, organizing supplies, soliciting donations, inventory, baking, cleaning and so on. 

NOVA high school students are not the only volunteers.  Students from Garfield, Franklin, O'Dea, Southshore, and other public and private schools come together to volunteer.  Additionally, many adult volunteers assist as well.  They come from school PTSA, school staff, community organizations, and interested community members.    We like to see young people get involved in positive ways in there communities.  So we have volunteers as young as 9 through college age.

This year the Rainier Community Teens, under the direction of Nicole Franklin, helped prepare the community meal  by making soups and sauces for the spaghetti.    There was plenty of healthy food and desserts for the families and volunteers.


Donations of food from local grocers and bakeries were graciously received.  Monetary donations and donations of gifts, clothing, and school supplies were received from September through December. 

NOVA High School and the Miller Community Center joined together and offered classrooms, gyms, kitchen, and the stage for this event.  Principal Mark Perry has been a generous and strong supporter of this event.  As a community, we thank both NOVA and Miller Community Center for offering these spaces for no charge to Gifts for Kids. 

While everything went well, there were a few highlights of this year’s event that are worth giving special recognition to.  Hair cutting and styling were offered free of charge to the kids.  The GP Institute of Cosmetology donated the services of 10 barbers and stylists during the event.   Warm for the Holidays donated hats and scarves for all the children.  The Reading Tree donated 700 books.   Two large bounce houses were available in the gym. Northwest Tap Connection donated an awesome performance, as did PULSE the Step Team, and musical artist Dominique Vijarro.

There were many smiles on the faces of children, parents, caregivers, volunteers and staff.  It is this joy that makes it all worthwhile.   

There are many people deserving of a special thanks.  We send our thanks to all of you:

GP Institute of Cosmetology,  Melba Ayco, Director of Northwest Tap Connection,  PULSE Step Team, Dominique Vijarro,  musical artist, Monique Franklin, spoken word artist and entertainment organizer, and all the 103 volunteers who helped make this a success for our community.

Gifts for Kids Committee:  Juan Vega, Andre, Sheri and Chet Hunter, CeCe Chi, Vance Bartley, and Joleen Franklin.
Nova Gifts for Kids Student Leads:  Rachel Schrivanich-Hammer and Peru Wamsley




 For more information about Gifts for Kids or to find out how to get involved contact Vance Bartley at 206 335 1088.