Big Brothers Big Sisters Nodaway County has officially kicked off its largest fundraiser of the year — Bowl for Kids’ Sake.
The annual event raises money used to underwrite the cost of matching at-risk kids with older mentors who are often, but not necessarily, college-age adults.
Hundreds of individuals and businesses typically participate in Bowl for Kids' Sake, which has become one of the Maryville area's most popular charity events.
The event will take place Friday, April 19, at Bearcat Lanes and will embrace three different bowling sessions at 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. BBBS Program Director Lynette Harbin said this year's fundraising goal is $30,000.
In the weeks leading up to Bowl for Kids' Sake corporate teams and individuals raise money by asking friends and family for donations. Then, with the money in hand, participants gather at Bearcat Lanes for an evening of free pizza, drinks, T-shirts and prizes.
This year's grand prizes, awarded to participants who raise the most money, include a night's stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City along with six water park passes; an iPad courtesy of Walmart; and a $300 gift certificate from Northwest Cellular.
"Many of our participants have said that this is the easiest and most enjoyable fundraising experience they’ve had," Harbin said. "Besides helping fund our program, the event raises awareness about our organization’s potential impact. Together we can join to positively affect the lives of children right here in our community."
She added that children matched with a "Big" often experience improved self esteem, better grades and improved family relationships.
Money raised at the bowling event and through the organization's used clothing collection, which continues year-round, is used to conduct background checks on volunteers and to provide various support services for children and their families
Currently the organization oversees about 45 Big-Little matches and has a waiting list of nearly 30 children. Harbin said the need is especially acute for men willing to serve as volunteers, and that about 19 youngsters currently on the waiting list are boys.
There is also a shortage of volunteers in outlying areas of the county, including such communities as Pickering, Hopkins, Barnard and Skidmore.
Non-college Bigs in for the long haul are especially sought after, Harbin said, since many college students are only in the Maryville for two or three years, and many Littles need the security and consistency that comes with long-term mentoring.
For more information on taking part in Bowl for Kids’ Sake, call (660) 562-7981 or visit www.bbbsnodaway.org.