Supporting Local Kids – Big Brothers Big Sisters

winter wonderland 2023 fun for kids

How is everyone doing? Its me again, Sparkle. Im just checking in since were almost a third of the way through 2024! Hard to believe, isnt it? That being said, the question I started with is one I really mean. How are you doing? I know things can feel tough at times, especially when were trying to balance work, our homes, and of course our kidsschedules.

Its the latter I wanted to focus even more on today. Kids today need all of us to support them more than ever before. And, since Christmas is a kid-focused holiday, its a topic thats close to Santa’s heart and my own — not to mention our friends at Twinkle Nights.

Lets talk about mentoring

One detail thats obvious whenever Santa visits homes each year is economic disparity. Its evident in every city across the United States and beyond. The families who dont have much often simply need someone who can help them overcome whatever adversity theyre facing.

Thats one of the benefits of mentoring, especially with kids. Lets face it: they often have no control over their home life and the challenges that their parent or parents face. Those stresses and pressures can feel overwhelming, sometimes affecting their grades, physical condition, and mental well-being.

Mentoring is a great way to offer a hand to a kid in need. And just to be clear, Im using the word kid” to mean both pre-teens and teens alike. So, for example, one of the major benefits of mentoring someone else is that they can act as an accountability partner. Theyre able to keep their mentee in check and guide them in the right direction in various areas of their life.

Volunteer mentors are a service many organizations need. Ill go over those in a minute, but first I want to touch on a couple more details.

Who was your mentor?

Winter Wonderland Gainesville 2023 ymca

Think back to someone who made a difference in your life. Was it an athletic coach, a faith leader, a relative, or maybe a friend? Regardless of who, think about the way they helped you.

Did your coach teach you skills and habits that helped to shape you into the person you are today? Their impact cannot be emphasized enough. A coach is often one of the most important people in someones life. Is there a team you could volunteer to coach, such as your childs soccer team?

There are many faiths throughout the world, and in the United States, the Abrahamic religions are the primary ones. Faith leaders within those organizations can provide us wise counsel and sage advice. Has one helped you at some point in your life?

Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and even cousins can mentor us too! Those family connections often know us from the time were little well into adulthood, and their advice can act as a great sounding board whenever we face challenges.

And last but not least, our friends sometimes know us better than anyone else. Even someone the same age as us can be a great mentor, bringing us up out of the proverbial mud whenever were down. Do you have a friend in your life who has always been there for you?

Why this matters

I know people who have had mentors throughout their life. One of them had a particularly helpful one during boarding school. My friend needed someone to help keep them accountable. This mentors guidance was there for them whenever they needed help with homework, encouragement as they worked through problems with relationships, and more. They built a rapport with them which helped shape them into the person they are today.

Thats just one example, but a great reason why volunteering and mentoring matter so much.

Ways you can help

Ive used this word a few times, but Ill echo it again. The best way you can help is simply by volunteering. Another way is by donating money, especially if your schedule prevents you from having the physical time to help.

Organizations that work hard to support kids

ymca halloween display

Now that Ive covered the how, here are some of the places where you can get involved!

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters: This organization likes to use the tagline It takes little to be big” and its so true! Little things can truly make a large difference. Even something as simple as meeting a kid for coffee or helping them to do their homework can make a world of difference.
  • Take Stock in Children Alachua Education Foundation: Scholarships. Mentors. Hope.” Wow, those three words are so impactful. They speak to the point of what I wanted to challenge you with today. When you mentor someone, you give them that precious four-letter word: hope.
  • Reading programs: Throughout the region are various reading programs too. Schools, libraries, and other organizations often need someone to come in and share a story or help a kid work through their reading assignments.
  • YMCA: The YMCA is a nonprofit that almost everyone knows, and not just because of that catchy tune from the 70s. Theyre everywhere, and our friends at Twinkle Nights have even partnered with them recently. The Y wants to help kids find their why” — and to help them build better health habits, social relationships, and so much more.
  • United Way: Another way to get involved if time is a concern is to donate to the United Way. Both private individuals and companies can do so, with donations ranging as little or as high as you can afford. Every little bit helps and will go a long way toward providing critical help for underprivileged kids.
  • Boys and Girls Club: Great Futures Start Here.” Wow, that is so powerful! Think about how you can be a part of that future simply by volunteering with this organization or mentoring a kid through their program!

My challenge to you

Well, friends, its about time for me to head back to the North Pole. Before I go, I wanted to leave you with this challenge: consider how you can help someone else. Whether through donations, volunteering, coaching, mentoring, or something else, you matter. And the impact you have on the life of another person also matters more than you realize.

And with that, Im off. See you next time!

Here are some other resources to help light up your holiday season!

A Winter Wonderland to Remember: A Heartfelt Thank You to Our Gainesville Community

No More Tangled Mess: The Best Way To Store Christmas Lights!

Christmas Trees – How To Look After Them