New fundraisers for Big Brothers & Sisters

Meghan Gauriloff

Instead of organizing a bake sale or a car wash, Big Brothers & Sisters of Portage County is currently raising money by collecting unwanted clothing and vehicles and raffling off a personal beverage vendor.

These current fundraisers are a way to raise money to operate the non-profit agency, recruit more volunteers and create more matches between the adult volunteers and the children on the waiting list, said Ron Kilchenman, associate director of Big Brothers & Sisters of Portage County.

Keeping the motor running

The Cars For Kids Program and the Fabulous Finds Thrift Superstores are both year-round fundraisers and raise the most money for Big Brothers & Sisters.

The Cars for Kids Program generates about $25,000 per year, Kilchenman said. Within the past four years, more than 2,300 vehicles have been donated.

The organization accepts both running and non-running cars, trucks and vans, as long as the person has both the keys and the title.

The vehicles are picked up free of charge within 48 hours of notification, and the owner will receive a tax deduction receipt for his or her donation.

Fifteen percent of the cars donated are repaired and resold, and remaining cars are sold by the part, Kilchenman said. After all the usable parts are sold, the cars are crushed and the scraps are sold.

Shopping for a cause

The fundraiser through Fabulous Finds Thrift Superstores, 2256 state Route 59 in Kent or 9058 state Route 14 in Streetsboro, generates around $18,000 per year, he said. People can help support Big Brothers & Sisters by either donating previously owned items or by shopping at the stores.

A percentage of everything sold in the store is given back to Big Brothers & Sisters whether the organization collected the items or not.

“We solicit the donations from the general public,” Kilchenman said. “People can donate used clothing, furniture, housewares, knick knacks and sporting goods.”

People who want to donate can take their unwanted items to either store or they can drop them off in one of the 15 collections bins throughout Portage County.

“The community has been so generous with their donations,” Kilchenman said. “The bins are collected twice a week and many times, they are full.”

Tammy McGee has owned Fabulous Finds Thrift Superstores for more than two years with her husband, Ron McGee, and she said when they decided to open a thrift store they wanted to help a community service organization in Portage County.

She said they asked around and heard many positive comments about Big Brothers & Sisters, so they decided to work with the organization.

“We liked them the best because they give so much back to the community,” McGee said. “We wanted something to benefit Portage County since we’re based here.”

Everybody who donates items will also receive a tax deduction receipt.

Wings and winnings

Another fundraiser currently raising money for Big Brothers & Sisters is a raffle for a personal beverage vendor at Buffalo Wild Wings, 227 Franklin Ave.

Chances to win cost $1 for one ticket, $2 to $4 for three tickets and $5 or more for six tickets. All profits will directly go to Big Brothers & Sisters of Portage County.

The beverage vendor dispenses both bottles and cans, and it has four shelves to hold both beer and pop.

“I think the winner will be thrilled to have this item,” Kilchenman said. “It’s so unique. Whoever wins it will think it’s just the coolest thing.”

The vendor will be raffled off at 11 p.m. on May 12 at Buffalo Wild Wings.

All of these different fundraisers aid Big Brothers & Sisters in one way or another.

“We’re using the money wisely to recruit more volunteers and to make more matches,” Kilchenman said. “We currently have 70 children on the waiting list, so I’m asking everyone to either donate their time, their vehicle or unwanted items to benefit Big Brothers & Sisters.

“You can make a difference in a child’s life by donating today.”

For more information, contact Big Brothers & Sisters of Portage County at (330) 296-6655.

Contact social services reporter Meghan Gauriloff at [email protected]