DANVILLE – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois hopes a new fundraising campaign will help close a deficit in funding for its school- and community-based programs.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois, which serves the counties of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean, Morgan, Sangamon and Vermilion, has decided to cancel all of its 2020 fundraising events, causing the regional organization to lose $400,000 in revenue.

In Danville, the annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake event that was set for mid-March was canceled as well as a golf outing that had been planned.

In response to the budgetary challenges, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois is kicking off a three-month fundraising campaign during which it will challenge people to “Give $10 Today to Help Crush $400K.”

The organization is seeking 40,000 people to give a minimum of $10 to help support the youth in local communities and help make up the deficit in funding to continue impactful school- and community-based programs.

All funds raised during this campaign will help close the $400,000 revenue gap and continue the child safety monitoring, youth resiliency coaching and family support services to hundreds of Little Brothers and Little Sisters the organization serves.

“This campaign is about trying to crush the $400,000 and fill the gap,” Christina Dietzen, community partnership manager of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Danville. “We’re just asking for $10. We’re not asking for a lot.

“What’s raised in Vermilion County will stay in Vermilion County,” she said. “We want to continue to be there for the kids who really need us.”

Dietzen said the campaign also is “about raising awareness of the program.”

“It’s important to keep the program and provide the mentors the youth need, and to continue to grow the program and make the program strong,” she said.

Part of the campaign encourages people to share their own experiences of being mentored on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois’ Facebook page.

“We’ve all had our mentors – teachers, parents, neighbors,” Dietzen said. “We’re asking people to make a video – it can be just 20 seconds long – and talk about their mentor or someone who has influenced them in their life.

“If they don’t want to do a video, they can type in a story,” she said. “It will be great to hear and see all those stories.”

Those videos and stories posted on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois’ Facebook page can be used to encourage others to share their stories, too.

“They can share the Facebook page and challenge others with ‘What’s your story?’” Dietzen said. “People are still being cautious (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), so social media is really how we’re getting our message out there. It’s a new age of campaigning.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer-supported mentoring network and provides children facing adversity with professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships.

By partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children, referred to as “littles,” with screened volunteer mentors, called “bigs,” and monitors and supports these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course.

The organization ensures that the children in its program achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships.

The first Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Summary, released in 2012, substantiates that its mentoring programs have proven, positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth in areas linked to high school graduation, college or job readiness and avoidance of juvenile delinquency.

With 260 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 170,000 children, their families and 170,000 volunteer mentors.

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