Kids helping kids, from generation to generation

Local nonprofit CB Kids honor’s founder’s late godmother by introducing children to charity organizations

Marcie Dewey, founder of local nonprofit CB Kids, working to connect children with charities and community service

Washington Township native Marcie Dewey remembers her godmother Cassy Bytof as an example of a mother. Growing up, Bytof was the aunt who had Dewey’s cousins get together, work together and be there for each other through singing, games and most often traditional relay races. When Bytof passed in 2012, Dewey wanted to do something in her honor. That’s when she created the local nonprofit CB Kids.

“The initial premise was we were going to get kids to do things for kids,” Dewey said. “Local kids in the area helping kids in need, whatever it may be — medically, financially — just to give back.”

In June 2013, Dewey organized an informational walk in the park to share her ideas and plans to interested community members. To her surprise, more than 100 people came to show support. Since then, the organization has grown to assist not only children in need, but also the homeless, domestic violence families and other nonprofits collecting items or raising money for the less fortunate.

CB Kids runs September through June, following the school season to ensure children are available. Each month, the organization chooses a different charity to help with a service project, while introducing the children to the nonprofit and what it does.

“We try to create something for the kids to do something hands-on. Hopefully they’ll remember as they get older and when they become adults say, ‘I remember helping them,’ and they’ll help them again,” Dewey said. “Kids learn by example. If we get them together and provide them an example of ways to help others out there, then they’ll remember that and they’ll then hopefully be an example for younger kids coming up behind them.”

Examples of CB Kids work include traditional events, such as a toy-drive bingo in December where children donate a toy to play a game for the chance to win prizes. The toys are then distributed to families within Washington Township. CB Kids also partners with CDW, a technology solutions and service provider in Cherry Hill, to adopt around 120 children through Gloucester County Social Services to give them Christmas presents. For Easter, volunteers organize baskets and eggs for People in Transition at Rowan College at Gloucester County as well as domestic violence shelters through SERV.

Last year, CB Kids raised funds for the Washington Township Police Department K-9 Unit through collecting images of pet dogs from community members and creating a calendar to sell for $5. Through the sales, as well as Dog Day in the Park, the volunteers raised $750.

Most recently, CB Kids volunteered alongside around eight additional charity programs to donate backpacks for students attending Mastery Molina Elementary School in Camden. According to Dewey, every student in kindergarten through eighth grade, about 500 children, received a backpack stuffed with school supplies.

Dewey said also in January, she invites a few of the older student volunteers, typically at the high school level, to create their own service project, start to finish.

“If we’re getting together, getting these kids to make a difference and then turn around and do it as a future generation, that’s a perfect reason to do something like this,” Dewey said. “Have the kids think of what they’re going to do for somebody else, rather than what they’re going to get out of it.”

In September, Dewey plans to collaborate with Township Rocks to create a scavenger hunt as a way of meeting children and parents, and explaining what is coming up in this year’s plan. Children will get together to paint rocks, the rocks will then be hidden and the person who finds the most rocks listed on the scavenger hunt sheet within the span of two weeks will win a prize.

In October, Dewey said CB Kids will be donating homemade games and prizes to the Ronald McDonald House for Halloween night, as well as filling and decorating chemo bags for cancer patients, a collaboration with nonprofit Collecting for a Cause.

Dewey said the children who volunteer with CB Kids range in age from as young as 3 to returning graduates who want to come back.

“The kids love it; they like to come, they like to help, they like to make a difference,” Dewey said.

For more information on CB Kids and what volunteer opportunities or events are coming up, visit www.cbkids.org, or check out the CBKids.Org Facebook page.