The organization was started in 2017 by Debra Smith’s son, Elijah Walter Griffin Sr. and his wife, Michele after the death of Elijah’s mother from a battle with colon cancer. “It makes the holidays a little easier to see the smiling faces on the children and their families during the holiday season and it brings me so much joy that we are able to give back to a community that has given so much to me and my family over the years,” said Elijah Sr.
The Foundation’s Mission
The focus of the Debra Deneise Smith Foundation is on education and community outreach for the underserved families of the city of Alexandria and surrounding communities. In its inaugural year, the foundation gave out $1000 scholarships to four graduating seniors at T.C. Williams High School. “I wanted to do something in her honor that would impact children’s lives in the same way my mom did as a daycare provider in the city of Alexandria for over 20 years” said Elijah Sr.
Partners Create Added Success
The Debra Deneise Smith Foundation partnered with Lonnie Rich of Rich Rosenthal Brincefield ManittaDzubin and Kroeger, LLP and Toys for Tots to serve over 70 plus children and their families with breakfast, arts and crafts, a few gifts and of course a visit with Santa! The Debra Smith Foundation received a great amount of support along the way through monetary donations and also volunteering from quite a few Alexandria establishments such as Greene Funeral Home, BW Communications, The Departmental Progressive Club, Oakland Baptist Church, the Untouchables, the Magnificent Twelve fantasy football league as well as many other family and friends.
The foundation will hold its 2nd Annual Scholarship banquet in the spring of 2020 as well as other community engagement events throughout the year. To find out more about the foundation and how you can help visit www.debradsmithfoundation.org for more information.