12/24/17 — Local nonprofit lives up to its name

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Local nonprofit lives up to its name

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 24, 2017 3:05 AM


Ryleigh Davis, 2, checks out some of the gifts, given away Saturday during the Bridging the Gap Foundation’s second annual toy drive.

Ryleigh Davis' eyes grew wider and wider as she circled the table piled high with Christmas presents.

Then the 2-year-old's face broke into even wider grin as she settled on just the perfect present.

Ryleigh was among the many children who were able to pick out a gift, or two, and refreshments Saturday afternoon thanks to the efforts of the Bridging the Gap Foundation.

It was the second year that the nonprofit has conducted the toy drive.

Founders Michael Valentine-Williams, Darian Harris and Tago Edwards enjoyed watching the children's reaction to the gifts.

But for them the event was more than gifts -- it was the foundation's message of giving back to the community and providing a role model for children.

And the three who grew up together in the inner city know how improvement that is to young children.

"It is all about the kids," Edwards said. "I was one of them. All of us were one of them -- growing up in the inner city not having much.

"Just being able o bless everybody. It is all about these kids. As soon as I came to these kids with the idea they jumped at it without hesitation."

Edwards said they want to build a foundation, something the children can look up to and look forward to in order to let them know there are people who care about them.

"There are our future and we want to lead them in the right way, show them we care about them, look out for them and give them stuff," he said.

Earlier in the year the foundation did a food drive, and most of the toys at the Saturday event were paid for by the men. Some was donated.

Members are interested in any ideas anyone has to come together and lift the community, Edwards said.

"We had a family not long ago whose house burned down," he said. "We donated to them. Anything that we can do to help -- that is what we want to do.

"That is what we are here for is to help and uplift the community."

That is the organization's only goal, and it is willing to work with other groups and individuals to accomplish that goal, Edwards said.

Just as importantly is being role models, he said.

"We grew up in these same streets as them" he said. "We know how hard it is, and we know how easy it is to get mislead or stray in the wrong direction.

"When they come in here we tell them to stay in school, listen to your parents, keep doing the right thing."

For more information about the group, and how to be involved visit the Bridging the Gap Foundation Facebook page.