COUNTY — Early Saturday morning San Pedro Kiwanis members and volunteers from the Cochise County Sheriff assist team as well as the search and rescue team split up to bring cheer to families in Sierra Vista, Palominas, Huachuca City and Tombstone.
For the 35th year the San Pedro Kiwanis Club and its nonprofit Just Kids Inc. donated new clothes to children in need. Jody Klein, chairperson for the stocking stuffers program, said this year the group is serving about 215 families and 628 kids.
Over the 35 years they have served 25,000 kids. He added this is a decrease from last year but thinks the different methods kids are attending school has had an impact on the number of responses since the organization relies on the schools to distribute and collect the forms from the kids.
“I think it’s pretty remarkable we got 628 kids this year,” Klein said. “I’m guessing we’re right at or close to (being) self-supporting.”
Each child received new clothing that was donated by a community member or purchased with funds donated to Just Kids Inc. Stockings contain two pairs of pants, two shirts, a pair of shoes, socks and underwear.
“The schools would tell us for some of the kids these are the only new clothing they have all year and they wear them with confidence,” Klein said.
The group of volunteers delivered 166 packages to families in Palominas on Friday and delivered the rest Saturday morning.
The CCSO assist team and search and rescue team have been helping with the delivery of the packages for the past eight years.
“They give back. That’s where their passion is,” Sheriff Mark Dannels said. “It costs the citizens nothing for the volunteers.”
Dannels added this is just one way the sheriff’s department can serve the community, which is what they are supposed to do.
“This is helping the youth in need,” Dannels said. “When we show up in our uniform it’s a positive experience. They see us in a positive light.”