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For kids' sake... Go bowling!

Local organization raised thousands of dollars to offer activities for youth

by: Kate Wennerstrom/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Approximately 150 local residents turned out for the third annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon (BBBSCO) Bowl for Kids’ Sake.

The third annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon (BBBSCO) Bowl for Kids' Sake took place on Saturday, with adults and youth taking aim at numerous little pins.
   "I think about 150 people showed up," BBBSCO Program Coordinator Lyrica Harris said. "It was so awesome. I'm still on a high from it."
   The teams, made up of four to five individuals, came together to celebrate a hard-earned fundraising effort, bringing in more than $16,000.
   "The teams had to raise a minimum of $250 to come to the event," Harris said. "Then, there was a fundraising competition beyond that so teams were working hard to raise a lot more than that. The team who brought in the most was Crook County Fire and Rescue, who brought in over $1,200 alone. The teams were also competing against each other at the bowling alley, but that was just for fun."
   In addition to individuals, local businesses also assisted the effort by donating cash, pizza, soda and numerous door prizes.
   "It was just a lot of fun," Harris continued. "Bowlers started arriving and packing up the place right on time. We had karaoke from Fine Note Karaoke. They came and supported the event. Amerititle and Contact Industries were great, they were big donators. We also had tons of free stuff - tons of door prizes were given away."
   The community-wide fundraising effort was held to help BBBSCO offer activities to the "bigs" and "littles" of the area.
   "We are a mentoring program," Harris said. "We offer free monthly activities for bigs and littles because we really don't want the bigs to be spending their money. That is why we need to fundraise, because we need to provide all of that."
   Among the monthly activities, bigs and littles can participate in slow or fast-paced events.
   "We do all kinds of stuff. We go bowling at Rimrock Lanes. We do whitewater rafting in the summertime," Harris said. "Every month there is a new activity. We go to the pumpkin patch. We'll go to Mt. Bachelor for tubing. A lot of the times these companies will donate partially or all, but whatever the difference is, we have to come with so we can provide that."
   BBBSCO also provides an annual hunting and fishing expedition, rock climbing adventures and even scrapbooking.
   "We try to really meet the needs and the activity choices of all the people participating in the program," Harris added. "You don't have to be into extreme sports to be involved."
   Adults who are 16 and older can become a "big", becoming a mentor to a local child.
   "We facilitate mentoring in Crook County, and that means we are looking for bigs and littles," Harris said. "We need all ages of mentors, adults who want to spend time with a child in Crook County - just a few hours a month to be a good role model and just be there for a child to look up to."
   Currently, the local BBBSCO has a large amount of children wanting to be involved in the system, leaving the organization searching for bigs.
   "The littles are kids that come to us from all walks of life," Harris continued. "They are ages 6 through 15. Sometimes they're referred from teachers and sometimes the kids come to us themselves. We have 24 kids on the waiting list right now. Every week we have new kiddos coming through that want a big brother or a big sister. We're especially in need of big brothers. We just have a lot of little guys that really want a big brother here in town."
   Become a mentor
   Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon is in need of "bigs". It only takes a few hours a month to become a role model. If you are interested, please call Program Coordinator Lyrica Harris at 447-3851, ext. 333, or visit www.bbbsco.org