Donté Gibbs: A True Cleveland Champion

Donté Gibbs wears a black shirt with black tie and smiles for the camera

Donté Gibbs credits his family, especially his grandmothers, for lessons in selflessness and giving.

Donté Gibbs (CWR ‘10, SAS ‘12) likes to make the holidays brighter for his East Cleveland community. For the past seven years, he and a team of committed volunteers have been going door-to-door and surprising families with hand-delivered gifts and cards during the December holiday season. To date, Donté’s Gift Express has given more than 1,500 gifts to the residents of East Cleveland, which is among the poorest cities in Ohio.

In recognition of the uplifting work he and his volunteers do, Gibbs recently was named one of 25 “Cleveland Champions” by the City Champions project, a partnership between The Guardian, Ideastream and Plain Dealer. The national project highlights some of the most innovative ways that ordinary people are making a difference in the lives of those around them.

Gibbs credits his family, especially his grandmothers, for lessons in selflessness and giving. “My grandmother Betty had all her grandchildren volunteering at food banks even as we were receiving bags of produce ourselves,” he says. “My grandmother Jessie made the most of meager means – so much so that we didn’t realize we were struggling because we were all together, and we took care of each other. It’s these experiences, I think, that position me to have a caring heart for community. I thank God I am able to do this with three of my close friends: Dominique, India and Seretha.

“We are our village, and it takes a village. Folks in the community know me as Betty’s and Jessie’s grandson and that helps motivate me to carry on their legacies.”

Gibbs received the 2018 Young Alumni Award from the Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University, and he was the 2017­-2019 Gund Fellow at the George Gund Foundation. Currently, he is Manager of Community Outreach at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Learn more about Gibbs and Donté’s Gift Express in this recent interview on WKYC-TV.