Gabriella Prieto captures true spirit of Christmas through her gift-giving project

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“There is nothing more important than the gift of giving,” says Gabriella Prieto, a 7th grader at Downtown Doral Charter Upper School.

Prieto put those words into action during the holiday season, by undertaking sponsorship of a much-needed Christmas gift-giving program for 2nd- and 3rd-grade
girls attending Overtown’s Frederick Douglass Elementary School.

A music student of Dr. Joy Galliford since the age of six months – and now a proficient pianist and flutist – the commitment to brighten the lives of these young girls was part of Prieto’s National Junior Honor Society Project for 2019-20. It resulted in achieving the goal of 100 percent for the school-wide project.


The initial phase of the project was launched by Dr. Joy, Executive Director of Friends of South Florida Music, who provides Music FUNdamentals early-childhood music classes for pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st-grade students at Frederick Douglass.

Dr. Joy had observed that some of her music students were not getting any Christmas gifts, so by enlisting the help of Principal Yolanda Ellis, they began the task of ensuring that every child at the school received an appropriate gift.

The key step in this initiative was to seek out sponsors from the other schools across the county where Dr. Joy provides her early-childhood music training. As awareness grew among parents with children in those classes, sponsorships started rolling in from places like Redeemer Church in South Miami, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove, Crossbridge Church in Key Biscayne. Temple Beth Am and Christ the King Lutheran Church in Pinecrest also eagerly joined in the gift-giving program.

Flash forward to the point where this astounding community response expanded into supporting pre-K, kindergarten, 1st-, 4th-, and 5th-grade classes. Still missing, however was dedicated support for two grade levels: 2nd and 3rd.

Ultimately, South Florida Music parent Adrianna Fernandez stepped up to sponsor the boys of 2nd and 3rd grade, but this still left the 2nd- and 3rd-grade girls to be covered.

Prieto saw her opportunity and quickly filled that gap.

She began by creating an Amazon “wish list” outlining the program, and then promoted her project by posting impactful information via social media, as well as by sharing details with family and friends and with her Girl Scout Troop 552.

As interested participants purchased items on the wish list, Amazon delivered the presents to Prieto’s home, where she began the process of sorting and wrapping each of the 20 gifts that ultimately were provided.

Prieto was then joined Dr. Joy and other donors in distributing the gifts at Frederick Douglass Elementary School just before Christmas break.

Says Dr. Joy, “It’s amazing to think that I have had the honor of being Gabriella’s music teacher since she was a toddler.”

“Gabriella is a superior musician, scholar, and an incredible leader who cares greatly about her community and I am extremely grateful that she chose the children of Friends of South Florida Music to be the focus of her National Honor Society project.”


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