Big Brothers Big Sisters holds annual charity bowling event

Lauderdale Lanes

by Staff Writer Melissa Parker

Sixty-seven percent of former Littles surveyed agree their Big played a role in their decision to attend college, according to the Big Brothers Big Sisters website. Unfortunately, the Shoals chapter does not have enough funding to match all the children coming in with a Big. Students have the opportunity to help by participating in Bowl for

Kids’ Sake.

“This is our 30th year doing Bowl for Kids’ Sake,” said Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Shoals Gina Mashburn.

The fundraiser is a great way to have fun while supporting a local organization, she said. Participants form teams, collect donations and come to Lauderdale Lanes to bowl for free and possibly win a prize. All the money raised goes to matching the children.

The fundraiser starts Mar. 13 at 5 p.m. with the Kaleidoscope Bowl, Mashburn said.

“They have the black lights and the strobe lights going, and everything glows in the dark,” she said.

Last year, Friday night was busy, she said. Everyone loved the music and the free T-shirts.

Children looking for an extra role model come to Big Brothers Big Sisters with their parents, she said. Right now the Shoals chapter has 80 children matched and another 67 are ready to be matched.

“We probably make about 55 new matches every year,” she said. “We can’t meet our demand right now.”

The average national cost to match a child is approximately $1,000 per child, Mashburn said, the Shoals’ agency cost is lower.

“The past three years that I’ve been here as CEO we’ve had an average of 159 kids matched,” she said. “Our agency is a little under $800 per year to match a child with a volunteer. We depend on donations.”

The agency hosts four fundraisers per year, she said.

“Sometimes other entities will have events for us like the ATOs at UNA,” she said. “We’re their

national philanthropy.”

Alpha Tau Omega, raises $2,000 to $3,000 dollars for Big Brothers Big Sisters annually and will be participating in the bowl this year, said ATO Vice President Samuel Satterfield.

“We decided to do this event because Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Shoals is our philanthropy, so a majority of our fundraising efforts go to support them,” he said.

Last year’s event raised $21,112, and this year the Shoals agency hopes to raise $22,000, Mashburn said.

UNA organizations used to be actively involved, but last year none came to support the event, she said.

“We would love to get the UNA groups involved,” she said. “This is a great way to get community

service hours.”

The team that raises the most donations from UNA will win a bowling ball to put in its trophy case, she said.

Junior Hannah Underwood said she volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters when she needed observation hours for a class.

“It is just an awesome opportunity,” she said. “I love how Big Brothers Big Sisters actually takes a part and invests in each child’s or adult’s life.”

During the three-day event, each team bowls two games for free and if a participant raises at least $25, he or she will receive a free T-shirt, Mashburn said. Door prizes are given every hour during the three-day period, and the top individual donation raiser wins the grand prize. At this time the grand prize has not been announced.

Though the organization does have to cover some of the costs, she said, corporate sponsors help, and Lauderdale Lanes has only charged $1 per game since the event’s beginning 30 years ago.

Janis Collett, general manager of Lauderdale Lanes, said giving back to the community is important to the business and the cost per game is not.

Mashburn said if everyone who bowled asked five people for $5, it would make a big difference

to the organization.

Teams are encouraged to register at www.bbbsshoals.org, she said, but there are usually enough lanes for those who just show up.

Collett said the bowling alley has always been happy to help Big Brothers Big Sisters with the event.

“We’re just glad that we can do that for them,” she said. “We enjoy having them.”