Children of prisoners get holiday brightened with new bikes and toys at Community Giveback in Menlo Park

by Contributed Content on December 9, 2012

The 13th Annual Community Giveback, hosted by All of Us or None, a project of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children was held yesterday at the Onetta Harris Community Center in Menlo Park. Children traveled from throughout the Bay Area with their families and caregivers to receive new bicycles and toys given to them on behalf of their parents who are incarcerated.

“As parents who were once on the inside, we understand the deep sadness that families separated by incarceration feel, especially around the holidays,” said Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and a Menlo Park resident.

The goal of the festivity is “to remind children with incarcerated parents that they have a whole community of people who care about them,” said event co-organizer, Hamdiya Cooks.

Added All of Us or None organizer, Manuel La Fontaine: “When people get out of jail or prison, we face a lot of barriers to participating in our communities. We are not going to let those barriers stop us from contributing especially to the children and their families and that’s what this effort is all about.”

The Community Giveback requires a lot of preparation. With the assistance of chaplains from throughout the California prison system, incarcerated parents sign up to request a gift for their child. All of Us or None spends months gathering donations from numerous individuals, and bicycles and toys from organizations such as Toys For Tots Foundation and Turning Wheels for Kids, the San Jose-based non-profit that donated 110 of the 175 new bicycles that were given out this year.

Volunteers from All of Us or None assemble the bikes prior to the event and adjust the bikes for each child as they receive them. They also make sure that their safety helmets fit correctly. Pictured is Jerry Elster, one of the All of Us or None organizers who helped planned the event. Jerry served many years in prison and is now an active member of All of Us or None and a staffer at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

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