Big Brothers and Sisters seeks funds, volunteers

Jessica Sprowl

Big Brothers and Sisters of Portage County is holding its 23rd annual Bowling For Kids’ Sake fund-raiser at the AMF Twin Star Lanes in Kent Saturday.

The event is one of many fund-raisers Big Brothers and Sisters does to help children in the community.

After raising $15,100 at last year’s Bowling for Kids’ Sake, Big Brothers and Sisters hopes to reach this year’s goal of $18,000, said Ron Kilchenman, associate director of Big Brothers and Sisters of Portage County.

Twin Star Lanes sets aside all 40 lanes for the event, “so the more lanes we can fill the better,” Kilchenman said.

Glory Days is also trying to help by challenging all Kent bars to participate and make a donation. Area high schools and churches are also trying to raise money for this event, Kilchenman said.

Also taking place throughout this year is the donation of running and non-running vehicles. Big Brothers and Sisters accepts donated cars, trucks and vans, and the organization either sells the parts or repairs the vehicles to be sold. All money is put toward the recruitment of more volunteers.

Anyone can donate a vehicle as long as the donor has the keys and the title. Big Brothers and Sisters will tow the vehicle for free, and the donator will also receive a tax deduction on his or her federal income tax at the end of the year.

Right now, Big Brothers and Sisters has received as much as 10 donated vehicles a week, and during the last three and a half years, it has received 2,083 vehicles, Kilchenman said.

Big Brothers and Sisters has also joined forces with Fabulous Finds Thrift Superstores in Kent and Streetsboro. Anyone wishing to donate clothes, furniture and other knickknacks can have Big Brothers and Sisters pick them up and take them to the superstores, and a percentage of what is sold will be donated to Big Brothers and Sisters.

“For a one-year period, we are hoping to raise $16,000 to 20,000,” Kilchenman said.

But Big Brothers and Sisters needs more than just money. The organization is looking for adults to serve as mentors, or “bigs” to the children the organization serves.

Big Brothers and Sisters will match a child to a big brother or sister by age and interests. A “big” is always matched up to a child of the same gender, Kilchenman said.

“There are 100 children on the waiting list for a big brother or sister, and about 80 of them are males. We have a great need for more male volunteers,” Kilchenman said.

Senior Eric Mahl, an exercise science specialist major and member of the football team, has been a big brother for almost a year.

“Last May my roommate and I were trying to think of a way to help our community, and we both agreed on Big Brothers and Sisters. I try to spend at least two to four hours a week with my little brother,” Mahl said.

Mahl said he and his “little” talk about how he is doing in school and what he is going to do throughout the week.

“In the summer I have more time so we play basketball together, and I take him to meet some of the football players at the stadium.

“It’s a great opportunity for yourself and for a child,” Mahl said.

Contact social services reporter Jessica Sprowl at [email protected].