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Kids Helping Kids Extends Helping Hand to Unity Shoppe with Benefit Gala

Organizers hope Saturday's fundraiser at The Granada helps offset last year's decrease in giving

In an effort to help offset a recent decrease in giving from local businesses to the Unity Shoppe, Kids Helping Kids will hold its annual benefit gala Saturday at The Granada, 1214 State St.

The event will feature live music — including performances by Mat Kearney and Tyrone Wells — live and silent auctions, a raffle to win a Vespa scooter and performances by local high school students. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m.

The Unity Shoppe provides people in need with basic necessities through its “free store,” which strives to eliminate wasteful giving.

Tom Reed, executive director of the Unity Shoppe, said giving was down drastically last year because of the economy.

“We had significant donors who had to cut back in general because of the nature of the economy,” he said. “There’s no doubt that everyone has been impacted.”

He cited the 24th Annual Telethon on Dec. 11, when the Unity Shoppe reached half of as an example of the drastic cutbacks people have been making in giving. The Unity Shoppe reached half of its fundraising goal.

Barbara Tellefson, president/director of operations for the Unity Shoppe, said individuals have given about one-third of the amount they did before the economic recession.

“The problem is that more and more people are being sent to us,” she said. “We’re getting a lot less money, and many more people are asking for help.”

For the past nine years Kids Helping Kids, a student-run nonprofit organization through the Advanced Placement economics class at San Marcos High School, has held a benefit gala for Unity Shoppe.

Adrienne Siems, a San Marcos senior and the chief operations officer for Kids Helping Kids, said the organization is well on its way to raise $150,000 for the Unity Shoppe and other people in need in Santa Barbara.

“We hope to put on a wonderful philanthropic evening,” Siems said. “This year, we became our own official nonprofit organization, so we can do whatever we want with the money.”

In addition to helping the Unity Shoppe meet its needs, Siems said Kids Helping Kids has already helped a San Marcos High School janitor pay for carpel tunnel surgery and, and helped a student with a degenerative disease buy a wheelchair.

Tellefson said she sees the value in working with other groups to help the community.

“The economy should teach us how we all need to work together to get the job done,” she said. “We would have more money and more everything if we just learned to work together.”

Click here to purchase tickets to the Kids Helping Kids gala.

Noozhawk business writer Taylor Orr can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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