Gia Woodrum, a third-grader who lives in Arlington and goes to school at the Garner Fine Arts Academy in Grand Prairie, has two passions in life: art and helping people.
She's combined the two things she loves doing most in life. She sells her portraits at auctions and through her website HelpGia.com and all the money she makes goes to buy food and clothing for the homeless.
"It makes me feel happy that I can put a smile on everybody’s face," Gia says.
The money she makes from her artistic endeavors is well above that of your average, pint-sized Girl Scout cookie saleswoman. Her father, Geoff Woodrum, says she's sold "a couple hundred pieces" in the three years since she started her charitable project, and she's raised well over $10,000.
"The biggest way is we have a silent auction about once a year," Woodrum says. "She'll sell her bigger pieces that are too big for the website or just a little bit special. We usually have it in the Dallas Design Center in Dallas and people will come out and bid on pieces out there. That's where we make the majority of our money."
Gia's artistic mission started years ago when she realized that people were willing to buy her art pretty much anywhere she went.
"She's always got a sketchbook with her, and she's always drawing on something," Woodrum says. "
Gia decided to use her money to help other people one night after seeing a man out in the cold without a jacket, Woodrum says.
"She was going to use her allowance money for a jacket," he says. "Then she asked, 'What if I sold my art instead?'"
She doesn't like to stick to one style of painting. Gia explores all kinds of artistic styles from Banksy-style street art featuring warped portraits of famous Disney characters to Jackson Pollock-style canvases that sell in the hundreds of dollars. Her favorite, however, is old-fashioned spin art just like the kind every kid does at one time in their childhood, except she makes hers on massive canvasses.
"It probably takes me 30 minutes [to do a painting]," Gia says. "I usually use acrylic paint, but sometimes I use spray paint. I'm just doing my own thing. I get to paint with my imagination, and I also think it's fun because I get to make a mess."
Then Gia and her parents venture out into the city every Sunday to give out food and clothes to people who need them the most using the money they raise from their art sales.
"We'll put together snack packs with crackers and cookies and fruit snacks or whatever we can get for that week," Woodrum says. "We'll usually give 100 of those a weekend along with some water bottles as well. In the summer, we usually give out ice water, and hot chocolate in the winter."
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Woodrum says Dallas' art community and the Design District have given them a lot of support over the last three years by buying Gia's works of art and encouraging her to explore her artistic creativity.
"I think that people like that it's a kid that's helping out," Woodrum says. "I think it's refreshing for people to see that someone cares,
Gia says she hopes by doing her small part, she can inspire more people to lend the needy a hand.
"It's important to me because if I help somebody," Gia says, "then maybe somebody will help another person."