Ever since Gayle Leyde founded the nonprofit “Giving from the Heart” in 2000, she’s been on a mission to help local children empathize with less fortunate kids both in the region and internationally.
Leyde formed the group when her daughters were going to school in the Lake Washington School District and she noticed that children from more affluent families often didn’t understand that other children faced different struggles.
So she started organizing with the district to both help the community and show students how to give back.
“It completes them as human beings, I think, if people can understand that they need to not only work hard for themselves but work hard for their community,” she said.
This has included doing talks at various schools, starting a community service day at elementary schools and making aid boxes to be shipped internationally to countries in need, Leyde said.
The program had been based out of her garage since it was founded, but last November she and her daughter, Amanda Kaneshiro, started the Summit Dance Company in Redmond, which now doubles as their headquarters for “Giving from the Heart.”
Compiling fleece blankets for soup kitchens, throwing events and collecting goods for those in need has been easier since they started the dance school, Leyde said.
It has also given her the opportunity to begin partnering with other organizations in the community, like Coldwell Banker Bain broker Marcela Arboleda, who has begun giving back too, she said.
Arboleda said if a client is referred to her Bellevue office from Summit for a housing sale, she will donate 10 percent of her commission to the nonprofit.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” she said. “…It’s about teaching our kids to give back to the community.”
And for the roughly 400 students at Summit who participate in “Giving from the Heart,” it should also give their activities a boost.
Looking toward the future, Leyde said she’s hoping to continue pushing for greater community involvement from her organization and students to help more children across the world.
“It’s always interesting to find out how hungry the kids are for the knowledge and understanding of what they do to give back that is really so meaningful,” Leyde said.