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11th Annual Community Giveback: ‘Invisible’ people give bikes to children of incarcerated parents

December 9, 2010

Come to the Giveback Saturday, Dec. 11, 1 p.m.-4 p.m., at the Onetta Harris Center, 100 Terminal Ave., Menlo Park

by Manuel La Fontaine

Bikes assembled and restored by people considered disposable, former “gang members,” “drug dealers” and “recovering addicts,” put joy on the faces of children of parents who were taken from them by the criminal injustice system.
Menlo Park, Calif. – This year marks the 11th Annual Community Giveback – an event where bikes, toys and gifts will be given to children; but they are not the average kids. Eleven years ago a group of formerly incarcerated people, with the help of prisoners, started to give away bikes to the children of incarcerated parents.

“We know how hard the holidays are for families whose loved ones are incarcerated,” said Richard Stamper, a resident of East Palo Alto (EPA) and member of All of Us or None, a national organization that advocates for the human rights of formerly-incarcerated people, and a project of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.

This event is particularly significant due to the fact that the community of East Palo Alto is still mourning the loss of a community leader, activist and dear friend of many – David Lewis – a revered formerly-incarcerated man who helped transformed the lives of many people in the once-regarded murder capital of America. “This Christmas will be one of the most difficult holiday seasons due to David’s absence,” shared Zoe Wigfall another resident of EPA and someone whose life was transformed with the help of Mr. Lewis.

“He meant a lot to me and the entire EPA community. Nonetheless, we must move on with our goal and that is to put a smile on children’s faces coming from their parents who can’t be with them during the holidays. We also want to remind the children that they have a whole community of people who care about them.”

Since its inception, the Community Giveback has been made possible solely by the very generous donations of bikes, toys, money and individuals volunteering their time. It started with the time, efforts and commitment of a group of prisoners in San Quentin who wanted children who had incarcerated or absent parents to know that they were loved regardless of their current circumstances.

The event that began in prison with the restoration of used bikes by the hands of prisoners has transformed into a community effort led by an organized group of formerly-incarcerated people, family and friends, who are trying to win full restoration of their civil and human rights throughout the country.

Imagine you’re a child who’s never owned a bike and whose parent is locked away and can’t provide one, and you’re walking into this room!
Most of the people, however, who attend these events only see the excited children receiving things, and a lot people don’t actually see the real value. “Most of the people who have been asked to assemble the bikes or to restore a bike are people who were considered disposable to society, including former ‘gang members,’ ‘drug dealers’ and ‘recovering addicts.’” explains Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of All of Us or None and executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. “They come out days earlier and work for free, and when the money is right we provide lunch. The only real promise I make to them is that they will have an opportunity give a bike away to a kid.”

All of Us or None is not only trying to win the hearts of many children, but also aim to change the public’s perception of formerly-incarcerated people who are making a difference in their respective communities. “This act is special to me because I get to see injured people heal and truly understand the saying that it is better to give than to receive,” concludes Nunn. “And the fact is that there are many of us out there, but for some reason negative publicity transcends such positive work.”

Manuel La Fontaine, an organizer for All of Us or None, can be reached at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, 1540 Market St., Suite 490, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 255-7036, ext. 328,,

3 thoughts on “11th Annual Community Giveback: ‘Invisible’ people give bikes to children of incarcerated parents

  1. Jesika Kern

    First I should say that my own child will be at this awesome event on Sat. I am thankful for these angels who give of themselves to insure that kids like my son, whose father is currently in the midst of year 1 of a life sentence, have something tangible from their absent parent on Christmas. My comment is directed solely towards the "author" of the this article… I suppose I kind of resent the part that refers to our kids as "forgotten"… Who forgot them? Not me… nor did the folks who put their hearts into making days such as this a reality for these kids… I realize there was no intention on the writer's part to offend or misrepresent anyone… Just wanted to make that point…. Thank you!

  2. sfbayview

    Your point is very well taken. Sorry I didn't think of that. The word "forgotten" has been removed. Thanks for writing. I hope you and your child and everyone who attends have a wonderful time today.

    Mary Ratcliff, editor
    SF Bay View

  3. Malaika H Kambon

    I like this. I actually ran into one of the people who helped to put this event together, and wished that I could have attended. Had I known about it sooner, I would have….

    Power to the People!


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