10-year-old best friends give back to the community during pandemic

They're best friends on a mission. Ten-year-olds Arleene Ramirez and Nellie de la Cruz have the same birthday, live in the same neighborhood and share the same goal to help make people happy.

"We want to make people just not be down and make them happy that others care for them," Ramirez said.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the duo has donated pizza to police officers, care packages to nurses, handmade bracelets for kids battling cancer at Miller Children's Hospital, Easter baskets for kids in need, and the list goes on.

"They're both an inspiration because, a lot of times, kids think that adults need to do something to make a change in the world but kids can too," said Arleene and Nellie's former Assistant Principal at Olivia Herrera Elementary School, Helen Makridis.

Markidis, who is now a Principal at a different LBUSD school, suggested that the girls organize their efforts to give back after Nellie was struggling with her aunt's recent pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

"Nellie and Arleene are both shy," said Nellie Lopez, Nellie's mother. "Their purpose for Cancer Fighters is not for recognition or publicity. They want to be able to help other kids."

The girls' next project is donating 80 care packages to pediatric nurses at St. Mary Medical Center, where Nellie spent five years in and out of the hospital with kidney issues.

"I hope they're just happy that they see that kids could work hard as well," Nellie and Arleene said.

Initially, Nellie and Arleene's families paid for all of the donations out of pocket. Now, Nellie's mother created a GoFundMe page for those who would like to contribute to their efforts.

"It's just two girls making a difference," said Nellie's mother. "I just hope that later on, they keep it up and see how far it really does take them and how they can actually change the world."