‘Bigs’ give ‘Littles’ a boost

Joud Bayeh | reporter

A group of student volunteers say they have found a reward in a sort of charitable kinship with Crawford County needy children.
“If you’ve ever wanted to have an impact on somebody’s life, there’s nothing like feeling you’re having an impact in a child’s life,” said Cody Frieden.
Frieden, senior in construction engineering technology, is a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters, a non-profit organization that provides mentors for children who are facing adversity.
“We believe that every child has the ability to achieve success in life,” said Emily Krysztof, director.
The group is currently working with 88 children in Crawford County. Big Brothers Big Sisters makes monitored matches between adult volunteers (Bigs) and children (Littles) ages 5 through 18. It has 67 Pittsburg State student volunteers.
“There’s not a better feeling as seeing a smile on a kid’s face and (recognizing) in the way they act that you’re having an impact in their life,” Frieden said.
For this semester, BBBS is preparing several fundraising activities. The first one is the Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Anyone can form a team of four to six people to raise pledges and participate in a bowling party on Feb. 23. The goal for each team will be to raise $100, Krysztof says.
There are other projects for the Bigs and Littles this semester, including a movie/game night and fishing; both for free.
Besides those, another big fundraiser is the Get Fit TRYathlon and the Get 5k and 10k. This will be the fourth year the group has held these events, which will take place at the Weede Physical Education Building on June 2.
“The TRYathlon is an event for youth ages five to 14 which is not only a fun competition, but also teaches them about healthy decision-making and the importance of exercise,” Krysztof said.
These events are open to all youth in the area, with scholarships available for those in need. The 5k and 10k are for anyone over 14 and the registration for the 2013 races is currently open. 
Lauren Rose, Big, a senior in elementary education says that she has already had some experience with volunteer jobs including an international community service in Albania, and so she decided to have an impact locally by joining Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Frieden says he believes that PSU students could be more present in BBBS.
“I’d like to think that PSU students really care about these kids,” he said. “I just think there’s a misunderstanding about it, but actually it doesn’t take as much time as it appears to.”
Mentors are responsible for visiting their Littles at least once a week for one to three hours for various activities.
“My Little and I like to watch movies,” Rose said. “She’s never seen Disney movies so we watch those, we bake stuff or just hang out.”
Krysztof says that by participating, Little Brothers and Sisters are 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs and 52 percent less likely to skip school.
“It’s such a rewarding experience as a Big to see how easy it is to be such an incredible influence for the youth,” she said.
Anyone interested in helping raise money for Bowl for Kids’ Sake or volunteering as a “Big” or at other events may contact Krysztof at ekrysztof@kansasbigs.org or 231-1145. 

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