Event to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters

Event to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters

CHAMPAIGN — More than 75 Champaign County kids are on a waiting list for caring adults to play a special role in their lives, and the local community can help by coming to an event where there's going to be a lot of chocolate.

The Chocolate Extravaganza, the major annual fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Champaign County, is set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at Hilton Garden Inn, 1501 S. Neil St., C.

Tickets, selling for $50, will include cuisine provided by 40 restaurants. The event will also include a silent auction and raffle for a vacation getaway.

There will be all kinds of food, plus wines, and "it's a lot of chocolate, of course," says Eric Batsie, community partnership manager for the organization.

The raffle prize features an all-inclusive trip for two to a five-star resort in the Caribbean island of Antigua, including $1,200 air fare, he said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Champaign County hopes to raise $25,000 through this fundraiser, Batsie said.

All the proceeds from that event will help fill needs for kids in Champaign County, he said.

That includes supporting current Big Brother-Little Brother and Big Sister-Little sister matches, and moving more children off the waiting list and into mentoring matches, he said.

Children can be enrolled in the program between ages 5 and 12 but can remain "Littles" paired off with their adult mentors through age 18, Batsie said.

Typically, the kids come from single-parent families, but some are living with grandparents and some are in foster care and all are with caregivers who realize they need an adult role model in their lives, he said.

Both men and women are needed to volunteer, but "we really need male mentors," he said. "We have a lot of boys waiting."

That's because so many referrals come from families in which the single parent is a mother looking for a male role model for a son, he said.

The waiting list continues to grow, because the more children that are served, the more referrals there are that add more kids to the list, Batsie said.

Tickets to the fundraiser are available by calling the organization at 355-2227 or through its website at http://bit.ly/1dPhKqI

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