Kids Helping Kids leaves lasting impact for students

By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald Correspondent
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How much food does it take to feed a child breakfast and lunch for two weeks? That’s a question Debby Dillon of Rocklin has been getting students at Cobblestone Elementary to think about for the last 17 years. As founder and organizer of Kids Helping Kids, Dillon puts together an annual food and clothing drive for about 200 underprivileged students and their siblings at Woodbridge School, a kindergarten through third-grade campus in Roseville. Dillon knows every year, all she needs to do is create awareness and Rocklin families respond. “It began when a friend of mine was teaching at Woodbridge and she told me about the huge effort the staff puts forth each year, making sure all families in need go home for the holidays with a large pile of food and gifts,” Dillon said. “I asked how my children’s school might be able to help.” Today Kids Helping Kids enlists the help of both Cobblestone and Twin Oaks elementary families to make sure Woodbridge children who depend on their school’s breakfast and lunch program do not run low on food during winter vacation. Samantha Bruce, 17, a senior at Rocklin High School, remembers learning about the young students in Roseville when she was just a kindergartner and has participated in the drive ever since. “The teachers at Cobblestone really gave me so much over the years and I’ve never forgotten that,” Bruce said. “I love coming back every year to donate food and adopt a family. It makes me feel good to help others.” Cobblestone Elementary parent Laura Cronin said she gets a special feeling at the sight of piles and piles of clothing and food when it’s time to deliver the goods. “The thing that always strikes me is when these children are off on break, they don’t always get three meals a day,” Cronin said. “It’s amazing to think a school so close to us has this need.” Dillon and her volunteers are also offering to deliver community donations that are dropped off to the Cobblestone Elementary School office by Wednesday, Dec. 9. Suggested food donations include kid-friendly items like peanut butter, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese and rice. No glass containers or perishable foods will be accepted. The clothing drive aims to help families with new items like children’s socks, underwear, shirts, sweat pants and coats. Dillon said any new children’s clothing items would be greatly appreciated. Most of the children are between the ages of 5 and 9 years old, but the drive also provides clothing for younger and older siblings. “As we move into colder months, there are bills that go up in terms of heating costs, so if a family is already struggling…it makes it even more difficult to provide the amount of food needed in a family,” said Woodbridge School Principal David Phillips. “This is really the whole community coming together and reaching out to serve others.” Twin Oaks sixth-grader Alison Snider, 10, said she knows exactly what she wants to donate. “I’ll give foods I eat like soup, green beans, mac ‘n cheese and cereal,” Snider said. “I want to help all the kids grow and be really happy.”