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Big Brothers Big Sisters hold holiday gathering

Photo, seated: Esteban Tafoya, Big Sister (BS) Lynne Parsons. Standing, from left: BS Lynn Montgomery, Little Brother (LB) Don’tae, Big Brother (BB) Bob Montgomery, BB Allen Burdett, Paul Long, BB John Fischer, BS Becky Green, BB Ernie Giannini, BB Francis Frank, BS Patty Slater, Little Sister (LS) Mary Boone, BS Amy Brucksch, BS Beth Laughridge, LS Elizabeth, LS Nicole, LS Sydney, BS Linda Long, LS Hai’lee, LB Ricky, BB Bruce Heckelman, LB Russell, LB Nolen, BB Dan Ferebee, LB Josh, BS Carolyn Ashburn, BB Dale McEntire, LS Belen, LB Isaias, LB Matias, council member Gaye Johnson, LS Alishia, LS Amber, BS Ally Moore, LS Jenifer and BS Sharon Kolbye. (photo by Karen Dacey, BBBS program coordinator)

Big Brothers Big Sisters held its annual holiday party at Morning Glory Farm in Mill Spring. The party was sponsored by a grant from Walmart of Forest City that helped with expenses and provided gifts for all the volunteers attending the event.

A Seasonal Assistance Grant, awarded to BBBS by the Polk County Community Foundation, was also used to purchase supplies for the party and gifts for the children, but primarily supplied Bi-Lo grocery gift cards for the families of each Little matched in the Big Brothers Big Sisters community and school programs. This grant ensured that the children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters had food during the holiday season.

This year’s Big Brothers Big Sisters holiday party was again hosted by Big Couple Lynne Parsons and Ernie Giannini. Giannini also serves on the current BBBS Advisory Council, while Parsons served on the original council that saw the need for a mentoring program in Polk County.

Parsons was first matched with her Little Brother in a school match when he was in first grade and needed a little extra attention at school. The match eventually transitioned to a community-based match, and then Giannini got involved too. Now in middle school, Russell consistently makes the honor roll.

Giannini and Parsons provide experiences to help broaden their Little Brother’s horizons in life, including holding a chess club at their Morning Glory Farm. Russell has been taking guitar lessons for several years and also went to beekeeping class with his Big Sister.

Most of the children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters community-based program are from single-parent homes. Some live with a grandparent or other relatives, some have a parent who has died or is in prison and very few live in homes with a traditional family. Big Brothers Big Sisters also has volunteers who serve as mentors for elementary school students who need a little extra attention in school.

Many citizens don’t realize there is such a need for mentors for area children, but BBBS always has a list of children, especially boys, waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister, and area schools request more volunteers than are enrolled.

According to BBBS, youth matched with an adult mentor have increased self-confidence, better relationships with others, improved school performance and are less likely to engage in risky behavior.

BBBS is supported solely through the generosity of the community, whether through grants, business sponsorships for fundraising events, bequests or private contributions. All gifts are welcome.

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, call 828-859-9230.