The Westmont College Education Department honored two Westmont alumni by giving the Excellence in Education award to their innovative, student-­run non­profit organization Kids Helping Kids at a lunchtime gathering Tuesday at Westmont.

Alumni Jamie DeVries, class of 1995, and Jillian Wilber, class of 2013, who teach AP economics at San Marcos High School and advise KHK, brought nine of their students to the ceremony.

Since its beginning in 2002, KHK has raised more than $1.8 million and has spread its model to four other high schools in Augora Hills, Sacramento, Ojai and Denver.

KHK empowers students to make a difference locally and globally. Internationally, KHK supports a safe house for children in Managua, Nicaragua, installed water purification systems in Honduras, and funded the building of a preschool in Rwanda. Locally, the group provides financial support to families of SMHS students by paying for such things as medical expenses and SAT/AP test fees.

KHK’s main event is an annual benefit concert held at the Granada Theater that has featured artists such as Tyrone Wells, Sara Bereilles, Switchfoot, Andy Grammer and Ingrid Michaelson.

The vision for Kids Helping Kids came from DeVries, who has a strong passion for others.

“I think the real meaning [in life] comes from serving people,” DeVries says. “People are eternal, we always forget that. Things pass away, they’re temporal, but people are eternal.”

Wilber says that agreeing to advise KHK “ended up being the single most life­-changing thing I could have done.” She is thankful to wake up every morning to teach, serve and empower her students.

“It’s great to take all that was poured into me at Westmont and turn it around and pour it into other people,” she says.

Previous honorees of the award, which celebrates the work of people making a positive impact in the field of education, have included Krista Beard, Casey Roberts, Ann Peak, Mary Osgood and three generations of the Hardeman family.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.