Harris Community Works, a subsidiary of T.I.’s nonprofit, Us or Else, hosted its 8th Annual Holiday Caravan this past week Grammy award-winning recording artist, actor and philanthropist Tip “T.I.” Harris. The artist teamed up with a wide array of local Atlanta leaders and organizations to provide an unforgettable experience for mothers and families in need this holiday season. 

“When you’ve been blessed as I am, it’s important to give back to those who may need a little extra assistance. I look forward to these events every year and will continue to serve my community as long as I’m able to,” T.I. said. 

The caravan began at the DTLR shoe store where mentees of the Next Level Boys Academy diversion program were treated to a surprise shopping spree, Atlanta Hawks merchandise, and exclusive game tickets personally provided by the home team.  

“For many, this is their Christmas,” stated Gary Davis, Founder and CEO of the Academy. “T.I. and Harris Community works has been a long-time supporter of us, and we appreciate all they have done and continue to do for us. As I tell the mentees, ‘It’s not where you are in life, it’s who you have by your side that matters.’”  

Later that week, the caravan stopped at My Sister’s House, the Atlanta Mission’s shelter for homeless women and families which provides food, shelter, critical programs to help families transition into a home of their own.  

“Many of our clients come in dealing with very heavy things that children should not have to deal with. When we have community partners like Harris Community Works come in and give Christmas gifts, it allows our children to feel safe and dream child size dreams,” said Katrina Dantism, Director of Program Support Services at the Atlanta Mission 

The room exploded with buzzing excitement from the kids as T.I. and Tameka entered the room where tables of toy giveaways were revealed. Congresswoman Nikema Williams joined T.I. and Tameka for breakout sessions with teens and mothers of the group – connecting and healing the heartbreaking challenges each have faced on their journey rising up from their fall. The mothers were treated to a surprise of their own – Visa gift cards allowing them to care for their families this holiday season. 

The holiday caravan made its last stop at the Project Pinnacle Diversion Program where T.I. made a surprise appearance during the mentees’ special graduation ceremony to pass out each diploma. 

The year-long program grants second chances for first-time, non-violent juvenile felons – allowing them to avoid a prison sentence and a permanent record by enlisting in various anger management and skill building programs. 

Judge Asha Jackson Founder of Project Pinnacle shared, “Project Pinnacle, Inc. is once again honored to partner with Harris Community Works as we celebrate the graduation of Cohort 12. These amazing young men and women are ready to embrace all their life goals while leaving the criminal justice system behind. “ 

Program participants like Rodney Crayton shared their own personal stories of overcoming and release when coming face to face with those that have assaulted him – which had left a deep scar on his face. 

“When you reach a high level, which I know you will, you need to remember to reach back and help those who need it,” said T.I. shared to each youth group. 

Credit: Dereon London/ @itsjustlondon