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Rocklin Kiwanis kicks Christmas into high gear

Hundreds turn out for K-Kids
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald and Press Tribune editor
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In a testament to Rocklin’s spirit of community service, more than 120 people were up and at ’em by 6:30 a.m. Saturday, spending their morning at Kmart helping underprivileged children find that perfect Christmas toy.

Or, in many cases, that perfect Christmas gift.
 
“The kids are all excited – they’re happy to be able to pick out stuff that they want,” said Store Manager Sue Fisher as she watched 153 children participate in Rocklin Kiwanis Club’s K-Kids shopping event. “Some of them are so cute – they buy stuff for everybody in their family and it’s not just something for themselves.”
 
Through K-Kids, Kiwanians give Rocklin children $60 each to spend on whatever they want. The children are recommended by teachers at area schools, who see first-hand which children could use a little extra help this holiday season.
 
“There’s a lot of need in this community,” said Jim Trimble, principal at Sunset Ranch Elementary School. “There are a lot of people without jobs, a lot of homeless people.”
 
Trimble, volunteering for his 12th year at K-Kids, said he knows of 35 homeless families at Rocklin Elementary School, and 20 families at his school who are similarly struggling.
 
But spirits were nonetheless high at K-Kids, as families waited in the still-darkened, brisk morning air for the doors to open. Mella Martinez, who brought her three children, said this was her first year at K-Kids and she was thankful for the event.
 
“So far, they’re really excited,” she said as her children discussed what they would say to Santa. “They’ve been waiting for it all night.”
“I got a ticket from Santa, from school!” explained 5-year-old Orlando Martinez, quick to point out that he’ll turn 6 on Dec. 28.
 
Kriss Kringle did in fact make an appearance, hitching a ride on a Rocklin Fire Department engine. As children made their way into the store, each one made a quick trip to his lap to let him know their Christmas wishes.
 
“They’re paired up with a shopper, and they go and they can spend up to $60, and we encourage them to buy something for themselves,” said Kiwanis Club President Lydia Khachadourian, as she happily snapped photos of the children and their personal-shopper “elves.”
 
Volunteers waited in a line to meet their young partners-in-retail, and friendships were formed as the pairs made their way through the store. At the end of the trip, many hugs were exchanged and the volunteers were welcomed to an appreciation breakfast at Heritage Oaks Memorial Chapel.
 
Joel Chavez of Roseville has helped at K-Kids for five years, and spent his morning with Orlando, perusing the toy car section. Chavez, when asked what keeps him coming back each year, summed it up: “Just the kids. Always the kids.”
 
Khachadourian explained that K-Kids is Rocklin Kiwanis’ biggest service project, and is made possible through the club’s various fundraisers throughout the year. One of those, going on right now, are See’s Candy sales through Dec. 24 at the corner of Park and Sunset. Additional support for K-Kids comes from individual donations and local organizations, including the Rocklin Firefighters Association and Kmart.
 
Opening the store at 6:30 a.m. means bringing the crew in early, as well, Fisher explained, but said they’re happy to help and have been doing so for several years.
 
“It’s really cute,” she said. “It kind of puts the holiday spirit back into Christmas.”
 
Get involved
Kiwanis Club of Rocklin meets at noon Thursdays for lunch at Wood’ys, 6502 Lonetree Blvd. Every fourth Thursday is an evening meeting at 6 p.m. Lunch is free for first-time guests. For more information about Kiwanis, call Membership Chair Ron Harder at 791-2273 or President Lydia Khachadourian at 717-8322, or visit www.rocklinkiwanis.org.