The student-run, nonprofit corporation Kids Helping Kids has made a $5,000 donation to the Ubumwe Center Preschool in Gisenyi, Rwanda.

Kids Helping Kids is made up of more than 100 San Marcos High School Advanced Placement Economics students and was led by CEO and class of 2011 member Ellen Gleason.

This year, Kids Helping Kids raised more than $160,000, much of which is donated to the Santa Barbara Unity Shoppe and the San Marcos High community. However, the students wanted to broaden their scope of giving and decided to also give to an international cause.

In November 2010, Rwandan genocide survivor Frederick Ndabaramiye visited San Marcos as part of the San Marcos High Leadership class lunch lecture series. He described his story of being captured and tortured by rebels and his struggles to regain his individuality despite having his hands cut off. He has become an artist and has dedicated his life to other affected by the Rwandan genocide.

Ndabaramiye has partnered with Jessica McCall to fund a nursery school and orphanage as part of the Ubumwe Community Center. His story and cause inspired many of the Kids Helping Kids students in attendance.

“It was an easy way to broaden the scope of KHK yet still stay local to our Santa Barbara roots,” said Gleason, who in the fall will be attending Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va.

For the past eight years, the AP Economics students of San Marcos have collaboratively produced Kids Helping Kids, a nonprofit organization that hosts a benefit concert and other events from which the proceeds are donated to Unity Shoppe, a local charity that provides valuable resources to those in need in the community.

From its humble beginnings as part of the San Marcos penny drive, Kids Helping Kids has grown into a community-wide event providing students with a real-world opportunity to apply their knowledge while also giving back. Kids Helping Kids receives sponsorship from a multitude of local businesses and several major corporations. To date, Kids Helping Kids has earned well more than $500,000. Kids Helping Kids thanks all the individuals and businesses who have made all of this possible.

— Aaron Solis is the activities director for San Marcos High School.