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Gavin DeGraw to headline Kids Helping Kids concert gala

San Marcos High School’s Kids Helping Kids (KHK) has booked popular pop/rock singer and songwriter Gavin DeGraw for their January gala concert.

The student-run program, made up of seniors, is celebrating the non-profit’s 15 year anniversary with major star power for the upcoming January 14 fundraiser performance.

“They’re going to be really excited,” said Mackena Hubbard, CEO of Kids Helping Kids. “I think they’re (local residents) going to want to come to the concert.”

Each year, the local chapter of KHK outdoes itself, not only helping children in Santa Barbara County but also throughout the world.

“We’re trying to raise a half a million dollars which is insane to say, given that we’re a bunch of high school students just working out of our classroom,” Hubbard said.

A “bunch of high school students” — 120 strong — thanks to the guidance and leadership of KHK President and AP Economics teacher, Jamie DeVries.

“We help fund water systems in Honduras and sponsor a safe house in Nicaragua,” Hubbard said.

New this year: A (private) student scouting trip to Cuba.

“We work through other organizations just starting to do service trips into Cuba,” said Miles Centrella,Director of Public Relations. “And since we’re KHK and we want to provide service everywhere, we’re looking for places that we can help.”

A number of students and chaperones will make the week long trip in December.

The KHK students have taken on another mission this year and that is to help foster children throughout Santa Barbara County — all 500 of them — with a closet full of donated school supplies and clothing.

“We just want to help the foster parents that sometimes don’t have everything they need for these children,” said Centrella.

The group is also utilizing students in other grades and classes at SMHS to help with The Village, a tutoring and mentoring program aimed at helping children on the Westside of Santa Barbara, and bringing in more funding by selling raffle tickets for a convertible Audi.

Arguably, one of the more daunting and potentially dangerous KHK endeavors is an private expedition trip to the red-light district in Mumbai, India in December.

“What we do is not just learn Econ and not just produce a concert,” DeVries said. “It’s also to try to meet some real life problems and hope to show our concert goers that story,” DeVries said.

DeVries and other adult chaperones are planning to travel with the two KHK student videographers who will put together an investigative documentary to shed light on that child crisis. He estimates it costs roughly $750 dollars, per person, to free young girls and teens from the sex trade and help rehab them, physically and psychologically.

The goal is to eventually place the freed children in an accredited school in India, where they can begin (or continue) their education.

“We don’t try to pretend that we’re going to solve the problem but we know some folks there that have given their lives to this cause,” DeVries said. “So, we really want to help them and empower them. They seem to know the best practices and how to rescue girls from that industry.”

For more information about Kids Helping Kids, log onto

Tickets go on sale November 18 at the Granada Theatre box offic,

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