DANVILLE — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermilion County is launching its annual Bowl for Kids' Sake fundraiser in a new and decadent way.
The public is invited to Big Chocolate Obsession, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today (Thursday, Dec, 1) at the Cooks Workshop, at 38 N. Vermilion St., in downtown Danville.
People can come and learn about the organization and its programs through adult mentors and mentees. They also can learn about the fundraiser and sign up to sponsor and/or participate in the bowling events, which will be held in Danville and Hoopeston in March.
In addition, they can sample a wide selection of chocolate treats prepared by local restaurants, caterers and other entities including the Cook's Workshop, The Deluxe Restaurant, CuppyCakes! By Abigail Liggett, County Market, Provena United Samaritans Medical Center, Bowman Estates, the Danville school district and Danville Area Community College's culinary arts program.
"This is the one big fundraiser that we do, and we wanted to do something to get people jazzed up and energized for it," Executive Director Rose Henton said, adding the kick-off usually isn't held until January. "We've already had people calling us to see if they could get their team together, so we thought why not go ahead and get it started. It will give teams more time to prepare and get excited about the event. We also hope it will give more people a chance to get to know us better and know why we're doing what we do."
Established in Vermilion County in 1971, Big Brothers Big Sisters matches adult mentors, "or bigs," with area youth, "or littles," through its community- and school-based mentoring programs. It also works with the Provena United Samaritans Medical Center Foundation to run the Young Women Aware program for middle and high school students.
The organization aims to raise $70,000 through the campaign, which is about one-third of its annual budget of about $210,000. It also receives funding through the United Way of Danville Area, a small state grant, other competitive grants and a medical center foundation grant, which helps support the Young Women Aware program.
Henton said the fund-raising goal has increased slightly over last year because the service need is greater. Last year, the agency served 450 children — 240 through its community and school-based mentoring programs and more than 200 through the Young Women Aware program.
"We serve that many kids with a staff of four full-time people and three part-time people. We do it on a shoestring budget with a focus on quality and doing our best. And we'd like to serve even more next year," Henton said, adding more than 100 kids are on a waiting list.
The Bowl for Kids' Sake event will be expanded to three days next year. Teams will bowl at Fast Lanes in Hoopeston on March 3, and at Lincoln Lanes in Danville on March 9 and 10.
Henton said they have the capacity for 140 five-member teams, which collect pledges and share information about the organization and its work in the community with donors.
"It would be great if we could go over the 100 mark," she said, adding teams can be made up of coworkers, church members, friends, family, etc. "The actual bowling day is a lot of fun. It's really a big party to celebrate what everyone's done for the children during the campaign — to ensure that they're successful in our community."
People can sign up to participate or make a pledge by going to http://www.firstgiving.com/bbbsvc/startsomething. They can get more information by calling 446-6601.