Big Brothers Big Sisters keep kids, mentors connected; seeking financial assistance to continue programs

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Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of East Central Ohio is working hard to #KeepKidsConnected and asking the public for assistance.
In a release issued April 29, staff noted COVID-19 is affecting everyone, but not equally. Vulnerable children and families are facing increased anxiety, fear and worry. With the March 12 announcement of the school closures, BBBS acted quickly to determine ways to keep the 198 school-based matches connected in Carroll and Tuscarawas counties. A normal school year gives matches closure and a celebration of the relationship that was built throughout the year. However, the abrupt end to the weekly program meant matches did not get their typical goodbye.
Additionally, the added stress and uncertainty Littles in the programs face make their relationship with their Big even more essential. BBBS has continued their Pen Pal program, which has become critical to keeping matches connected. Bigs and Littles have been given the opportunity to continue their relationships through letters with the BBBS office acting as the post office. Bigs are able to offer encouragement, support and advice to their Littles and are receiving heartfelt and honest letters back. As of April 29, over 200 letters and packages had been sent through the BBBS office.
In addition to maintaining relationships and offering support, the communication allows agency staff to offer support. Littles may mention they are running out of ideas on how to keep themselves occupied or express frustration in a homework assignment they are struggling with. This allows staff to step in and provide ideas or assistance.
BBBS recognizes many of the families in their programs are struggling. Even in the best of times, Littles face adversity at a higher rate than the average young person in America. The staff has committed to assembling packages full of snacks, school supplies and activities and dropping them at Little’s homes.
In preparation of drop days, mentoring specialists reach out to each family to see if there are additional needs the agency can provide. Requests have included cleaning supplies, board games, groceries, trash bags, and more. This allows staff to support the families with the needs they have and give the opportunity to make sure the Littles are safe and supported.
“While service to our families and matches continues, COVID-19 has had an impact on our mission. Our programs are essential services we must continue to provide to youth through the pandemic, but we need investment in our mission and capacity to ensure our agency remains open,” said staff at the New Philadelphia office. “We are forecasting a $50,000 loss to our agency due to fundraising event cancellations and drops in individual and corporate giving. These funds directly affect the operating budget of the agency. That’s why Big Brothers Big Sisters is participating in #GivingTuesdayNow.”
GivingTuesdayNow is May 5 and will operate as a global day of generosity and unity, a day to come together and give back in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19, no matter who or where you are.
Individuals can follow BBBS of East Central Ohio on Facebook or Instagram for updates as the agency continues to #KeepKidsConnected and support #GivingTuesdayNow.
For questions or more information, contact Olivia Scally, director of Development and Administration at BBBS by calling 330-339-6916 or email at oscally@bigs4kids.com. Visit www.bigs4kids.com for additional information.

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