COLUMBUS, Ohio — ‘Tis the season to give back and your donation of a toy won’t just brighten Christmas day for a child in need, it could also have a life-altering impact on that child’s life. Gabrielle Solange is living proof of how your giving can change lives this holiday season.
Solange always loved music. It was an escape. It was her safe place. She can sing too. Her voice can touch your heart, but her life story can break it.
As a runaway teen who grew up in the foster care system, Solange says she felt unseen and unheard. Eventually, she just learned to be invisible. She’d spend hours locked away in her room, writing about how she felt.
“I wanted to not feel like a burden,” Solange said. “I knew that I didn’t feel like anybody was my true family or it was my true home.”
On her darkest days, she often thought about taking her own life.
“I remember specifically, writing an entire page that said I’m sorry. It just said I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Don’t know who I was apologizing to. I felt I was apologizing to God because my parents didn’t want me or something,” said Solange.
When it came to holidays, Christmas was never a day she looked forward to like other kids.
“It’s because you learn to just be numb, you learn to not want anything,” she says. There wouldn’t be a gift under a tree for her.
But one Christmas changed the course of her life. It was the year a charity organization granted her one Christmas wish.
“I was like, I can pick something?” she recalls. “I remember it was like, what toy do you want? I wanted a CD player. I got a CD player. I remember it was lime green and black. That was my lifeline. It’s hard to explain, but it just felt so magical.”
Gabrielle Solange says she finally felt worthy. That CD player and the music that came from it may have saved her life.
But, how do you say thank you to someone you’ve never met? By paying it forward and helping someone else along the way.
Solange founded RunSong Productions. She hosts creative workshops in schools, coaches vocal students, and manages social media profiles providing multi-media services for brands, artists and influencers. She has found a way to give back using her talents. She says teaching others is often therapeutic for both her and her students.
Today, Solange volunteers and donates to holiday events like The Big 10TV Toy Drive. It’s her way of paying it forward.
“That moment of connection, of just letting someone know they matter. I know what it did for me,” she tells 10TV. “Giving them something, it makes them feel visible and that becomes something you could never have imagined. You have no idea. You gave me a CD player and I became a musician."
You can learn more about RunSong Productions or sign up for vocal lessons by visiting her website.