A bunch of dirty hippies took on Indians, dragons and even dentists in Payson Saturday — hoping to save the children. Not to mention topple as many pins as possible.
By the time the Dragons yielded and the Dirty Hippies bathed, the 10 teams participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowling for Kids’ Sake had raised $3,100.
The organization that matches children with student and adult mentors relies on such fund-raisers to provide the three part-time employees who make the matches between “Bigs” and “Littles.”
Demand for matches has soared as the economy has soured, said Robert Henley.
The Payson branch of the national organization has this year matched about 180 children with either a mentor from the high school or with willing adults.
Research nationally has demonstrated that children who get such mentoring do better in school, gain greater confidence in relationships and reduce things like smoking, drinking and skipping school.
Henley noted that Payson has an acute need for the kinds of supportive connections the program makes between mentors and at-risk kids, many referred to the program by social welfare organizations, including Child Protective Services, the Time Out Shelter, the Department of Economic Services and the school district.
He noted that some 500 kids in the Payson Unified School District qualify as “homeless” because of their unstable living conditions. A daunting 70 percent of the children in the community qualify for free and reduced school lunches.
Unfortunately, the number of teams participating in the crucial Bowl for Kids day has dropped, even as the need has risen, said Henley. The collapse of the construction industry resulted in a drop in the number of people volunteering to donate $35 to fill a slot on a team.
Fortunately, the group has managed to keep recruiting mentors, with an increase from about 20 four years ago to 180 now.
On Saturday, Center for Success student Blaze Nicholls scored as the top student fund raiser, bringing in $271. The top adult fund raiser brought in $370 in pledges.
Home Depot and Scoops donated prizes for the bowlers whenever they rolled a strike or answered a trivia question. Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning & Pellet Stove Service provided raffle items and Rim Country Lanes manager Josh Reid offered sharply reduced rates for use of the bowling alley.
Teams for the event included the Dirty Hippies, Tonto Tornados, The Home Depot, the Indians, the Dragons, the Pin Smashers, Payson Dental Care and the Strikers.