Maya Pace Gives Back Through GIFTS


Jade Garcia

Junior Maya Pace poses with one of the children who are apart of the program. The activities took place in the gym from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.

Jade Garcia, Social Media Editor

For Junior Maya Pace, it only made sense to combine her passion for volleyball with her love for giving back to the community. The result was the creation of an annual event that benefits a community of children whose parents are inmates. 

Pace started Gifts For Inmates Children To Share (GIFTS) in 2018 with the goal of giving gifts to children whose parents are inmates and won’t receive gifts or the resources they need, whether that be during the holidays or all year round. 

Ever since Pace was young, she found it easy to help others and would make sure others are being treated with respect. Therefore, she decided she wanted to give back to these children while incorporating her sport that she’s been a part of since she was 10 years old. 

These experiences that the children go through aren’t all new to Pace. 

“I remember being in their exact position,” Pace said.

When she was younger, Pace was faced with the struggle of having a very close family member being sent to jail. This is what initially sparked the idea to create GIFTS. 

Not only does Pace host an annual gifts drive for these children during the holidays, but she also hosts an event where she spends part of the day with these children and teaches them new things like mindfulness and meditation as well as participating in activities. For part of this event, she incorporates volleyball into an activity. 

Pace’s ability to connect with people sprouted at a young age and continued as she grew connections with the children she worked with.

“I know how important it is for these children to feel included in a community, feel loved, and to have fun,” Pace said. “I wanted to share my passion for volleyball with children who haven’t had the same opportunities that I have and had in my life.” 

While all these kids primarily played football or basketball, they started adapting to trying new things with the help of Pace, her teammates, and her coaches in learning the basics of volleyball. 

“As the hours passed, it was so fun seeing how interested [the children] became in the sport,” Pace said. ”Many of the kids didn’t even want to let go of the volleyballs and when it was time for them to leave.” 

Pace originally started this organization to give back to the community that she was once a part of but it turns out that she also receives so much from the community in return as well.

“I feel so much joy while interacting with and coaching these kids. Watching their faces light up while playing volleyball is so rewarding for me,” Pace said, “I put myself in their place as I once was before and I think about how much I would have appreciated something like this, that’s the reason I started GIFTS.”