A Warmth Of Difference

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Kids Helping Kids joins together for its annual packing day. (Photos by Abby Elyssa)

Kids Helping Kids (KHK) “Making a Warmth of Difference” celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, bringing both kids and adults to its Winter Apparel Packing Day at the end of October. The organization provides children in need with new, branded apparel for the cold winter months. But what sets KHK apart from other organizations of its kind, however, is that it targets a unique yet specific group looking to help others: kids.

Executive director Bob Eslick, knows the importance of focusing on this age group.

“If a kid helps another kid and they’re young at 7 or 9 years-old, as they become older, teenagers and adults, they’ll make a difference in the world we live and in the world they live in,” Eslick said. “That was the concept 20 years ago and it’s still the same today.”

Eslick—running on little sleep—organizes the event at his own home, welcoming those of all age ranges and backgrounds to help pack the coats.

“If one person came here and gave us five minutes, that’s five minutes more than I had yesterday,” Eslick said, adding that this year, they delivered more than 8,000 units of winter apparel.

Eslick’s son and cofounder, Philip, recognizes the significance of volunteer work at a young age when children today are often preoccupied with technology.

Volunteers pack winter apparel for those in need.

“They’re [kids] desensitized by watching things on their iPhones and not really interacting with the real world and not being able to get that first-hand experience,” Philip said, acknowledging that KHK provides an outlet for kids to just be kids and learn from charitable work. “It’s good to instill those values in kids at such a young age because now with everything that’s happening in the world, you need a little goodness in your heart.”

But the adults aren’t the only ones who see the benefits of getting involved. Isaiah Bird, a 9-year-old wrestler born without legs, donates his time helping kids less fortunate than himself.

“I want to help kids every day of my life,” said Bird. “Even if they have disabilities, I don’t care, I just want to help them. I’m proud of myself.” Bird recognizes both his work with KHK and his time wrestling as outlets for him to deal with his anger.

“People make fun of me. Instead of taking it out on the street, I take it out on the mat,” Bird said, adding that he’s just one of the many children who find pride and comfort in work with KHK.

Olivia Brown, 11, spoke at the “Making a Warmth of Difference” annual benefit at Oheka Castle two years ago.

“I was nervous at first, but it was fun to do,” Brown said. She attributes her passion for helping others to her father’s charitable work.

“Making a Warmth of Difference” is currently in its 20th year.

Mike Brown, NY Auto Giant partner and KHK sponsor, remembers his daughter’s speech two years ago as something she did completely on her own.

“I wrote something for her and she crumbled it up, threw it away, and wrote something in her own words,” Mike said.

He’s proud of his daughter and the values he’s instilled in her.

“Anytime someone calls me with something about a child I’m going to look at it,” Mike said. “Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be a phone call. I came into work with tears in my eyes one day with a story in the paper about a child in need and handed it to one of my employees and said, ‘Find them and we’ll figure it out.’”

Along with the benefits that come with kids participating in this kind of work, its rewards affect those of all ages.

“It helps to know not everything is a big deal. Like being in traffic for an hour and a half or not being able to make a particular show. We’re very fortunate enough to be able to do those things in the first place. Not everyone can even just afford a coat,” Philip said. “Be in the moment. Enjoy what you have while you have it.”

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