Hearing a girl declare she’s happiest during the hour she spends with her mentor is one of the reasons Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) does what it does.

“As much as it’s just one hour, it’s time for them to be themselves and know that the mentor is there just for them and they don’t have to compete with anyone else,” said Carissa Sparrow, mentoring co-ordinator with BBBS Orillia.

Seeing the impact in the community is why Laura Uttley and her colleagues at HollisWorth continue to support the organization through the annual Bowl for Kids Sake, a fundraiser happening next month.

“There are a lot of kids that need that,” she said. “Even if they have both parents present, they’re working so hard to make ends meet, there’s still a need for a mentor.”

Uttley and other members of the business community in Orillia and area gathered Wednesday afternoon at Boston Pizza for a kickoff to the fundraiser. The event is being held between 5 and 7 p.m. in Orillia (at Orillia Bowl) April 10, 12 and 13, and in Coldwater (Coldwater Bowling Centre) April 11. The non-profit raised $24,000 from last year’s event and hopes to double the amount this year, said James Maxwell, executive director of BBBS Orillia, who added 27 teams have already registered, but there is plenty of room, with 41 spots remaining.

A study showed of the 279 “littles” helped last year through the seven school- and community-based programs offered by BBBS Orillia, 76% reported improved academic performance. But there are still more than 50 children awaiting a match, said Maxwell.

With this year’s Bowl for Kids Sake theme being Canada’s sesquicentennial, participants who raise at least $150 will automatically be entered into draws for prizes including tickets to the Boots and Hearts Music Festival and family passes for rafting at River Run Rafting Resort.

To register, visit bbbsorillia.ca/bowl or call 705-325-3151.

mshahid@postmedia.com

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