Jummel Hidrosollo/Special to the Home News
Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008 | 7:02 p.m.
Teachers and administrators from Cimarron-Memorial High School took a break from helping students this past weekend to help the less fortunate in the community.
Thirty-five school staff members doled out food, clothing and toys to more than 700 needy families and homeless people at the City Mission of Las Vegas on Saturday.
It was the seventh consecutive year Cimarron-Memorial has volunteered to help the mission. Assistant Principal Joe Caruso started the outreach event to show that the school cares about the entire community, not just the students, he said.
"We come down here to people who truly need our help and show people we really do care," he said. "It's really the greatest feeling."
Faculty members donated $7 each to purchase sheet cakes to give as part of the meal. Part of the money was used for coffee and snacks for the volunteers who stood outside in the cold handing out the packaged meals and toys.
"You see these young kids come in and all they want is a toy or they want something warm in their belly," Caruso said. "That's the greatest gift, to see them walk away and know that someone cares about them ... that's all they ask for is just a few minutes of appreciation."
Science teacher Marc Rogers has volunteered for the annual event for five years and said he is amazed how many children need basic necessities.
"It's not old men down on their luck. It's families," he said. "It's just the sheer numbers of people that need help."
And the number of people the Cimarron-Memorial staff helps rises every year, Caruso said.
The Lakes residents Renee and Dave Newton organize collection of the clothes, food and other free items. They've done so for 12 years, the last seven with City Mission.
They have more than 30 friends, family members and neighbors who volunteered to bake the 4,000 cookies, package the 360 toy bags and 1,000 toiletry bags, and collect the donated items from Lee Antonello Middle School, K.O. Knudson Elementary and the Venetian resort, which led a winter coat drive.
The Newtons aren't affiliated with any charitable organization or school or the City Mission. They started helping the homeless and working poor simply because they need help, Renee said.
"Even if we can just give them a pair of warm socks or a pair of gloves, I mean, somebody's got to do it," she said. "And all these people (volunteers) have such good hearts to do this."
Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or firstname.lastname@example.org.