Bigs Make The World A Better Place For Littles

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Once a year, bowling balls rumble down the alleys of Rim Country Lanes to strike the pins.

Whether the ball takes out all 10 or, a just a couple of pins, team members scream and shout their enthusiasm at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids' Sake.

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Members of Big Brothers Big Sisters play a game of Twister. Playing are Kelsey Oakley, Tasha Rivas, Brandon Jensen and Bradley Jensen. In the front of the window are Ken Althoff, Brittany Golden, Arayona Escalanti and Wesley Murray.

Money raised from the bowling event funds the local Big Brothers Big Sisters programs that mentor children.

Through the years, Bigs (adults) have stepped up to hang out with Littles (children) for a variety of reasons:

"My kids left so I didn't have any kids left in my life and I kind of missed that," said Susan Williams of her initial desire to become a ‘big sister.' "I thought it would be a lot of fun and it was."

Self described "big kid" David Beckstead was matched with a boy named Daniel Back in 2002 because they both like to clown around.

Artists created bowling pins for the 2006 bowl

"I'm totally a big kid," David Beckstead said. "But I don't have time to have my own, so I thought it would be great to have someone like Daniel to hang out with and impart some of my grandfather's stuff and Mark's (my big brother) too.

Through BBBS the community is able to "embrace youth in the area that might be headed in the wrong direction," Hill said.

Teens are able to reach out to younger children through site-based elementary school programs.

Littles in the program at Frontier told what they liked about their teen Big:

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These members of the ‘Skunk' bowling team helped to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters activities during the organization's annual bowling event.

"We just have a lot of fun," Kailey, a little in fifth grade said.

"We play ball together," another little said.

"Everything," a second-grade little sister, intent on coloring, said.

"I do what (my little) wants to do. I like that I'm helping someone else out," Geneva Eckstein, a Center for Success high school student said.

Fun, improved self-esteem and all the good feelings that come when someone truly likes you, spends time are all a part of successful BBBS mentoring relationships.

Parent of a little in the program, Vicki Van Camp said her daughter "takes initiative" and is "more aware of her community and the kind of impact she can have just doing little things. Like she and her big sister went and helped at the school community clean up... they had the BBBS rummage sale and she helped get that organized and participated... it is really nice."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona

Founded: BBBS was founded in 1904. Big Sisters of Arizona was started by Justice Lorna Lockwood in 1955. Barry Starr began Valley Big Brother in 1966. On January 1, 1986, the two organizations merged to form the Central Arizona chapter.

Officers: Robert Henley, director and Ginger Sparks, program specialist.

Purpose/mission statement: BBBS is a children's charity offering a mentorship program to youth ages six to fifteen. The charity, non-profit organization, recruits, trains and supervises volunteers who are capable and dedicated mentors. These volunteers offer their time and guidance to children who are seeking a positive role model in their lives.

Contact info / website: Ginger Sparks, program specialist.

Purpose/mission statement: Mentoring children.

Contact information: Sparks, at GSPARKS@bbbsaz.org (928) 468-8375. She has permission forms for children and applications for adults.

Web site: www.bbbsaz.org.

Clothing donation bins at: Wal-Mart, Payson Town Hall and Sawmill Crossing.

Contributions to community / major projects: One-on-one mentoring between an adult and a child who meet two to six times in a month. The Peer Counseling class at Payson High School mentors a group of children at Julia Randall Elementary School. Students from Center for Success mentor students at Frontier Elementary School.

Public, gently used clothing donation boxes, are at Wal-Mart and Sawmill Crossing.

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