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'Small but mighty' group Bowl for Kids Sake (12 photos)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of York has supported children in York Region for decades, but it is in need of more volunteers for Big and Little match-ups

In an era of GoFundMe and other direct fundraising campaigns, some traditional charitable organizations are struggling.

Like Big Brothers Big Sisters of York.

The organization provides Big and Little mentoring match-ups, and a range of other programs that support the emotional, social and educational development of kids from father- or mother-absent homes, or who need a guiding hand.

But more and more, they are competing for a shrinking charitable dollar, as personal appeals engage potential donors.

Which is why events like the A&B Courier Bowl for Kids Sake, and the support of the community teams that sign up for the annual fundraiser, are so important to the organization, said Executive Director Sarah Dame.

“We’re fortunate to have an event here, still,” said Dame, at the Bradford Community Day on Sunday that saw four large teams come out to Bowl for Kids Sake at Bradford Underground Bowl, most of them occupying two lanes apiece. 

The Town of BWG, Bradford legion, Bradford Lions Club and the Robinson Family were out in full force, raising funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of York.

“We’re small but mighty,” Dame said. “Everybody’s here today, so we must be doing something right! We have our tried-and-true supporters.”

The Town of BWG team was led by Coun. Peter Dykie Jr., accompanied by sons Aydan and Justin.

“Since 1992, I’ve been doing this,” said Dykie - not only coming out to bowl, but donating prizes for a fundraising raffle.

Bradford’s Bowl for Kids Sake raised a total of $3,370 this year.

“As you know, we ask each team to raise $500, so we are quite happy with the results,” said Neil Haggarty, Bowl for Kids Sake administrator. “This is less than last year, but we had three more teams participating last year.

Dame noted the funds collected through pledges and raffles go to support Big Brothers Big Sisters programming in York Region and South Simcoe – but services are limited not only by money, but by the lack of volunteers.

“We do have a waiting list,” she said. “It’s hard to find volunteers who want to be Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Everybody’s being asked to do more.”

Mayor Rob Keffer was among those bowling on the Town of BWG Team. He noted that Big Brothers Big Sisters has provided support in the community for decades.

As an organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been providing mentoring services since 1912, and it has impacted local residents like the late Vera Stoddart, whose funeral was held March 1 in Bradford, Keffer said.

Stoddart was a scholar and historian, who was Simcoe County’s first Farmer of the Year in 1990. When she was in high school, it was a Big Sister who encouraged her, and “paid for teacher’s college, 65 years ago,” said Keffer, directing her to a new career and a new life in BWG.

“Thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters, that they have been supporting young people all these years,” said Keffer.

“Every year, I can tell you our waitlist is there, and continues to grow,” said Dame, thanking the teams for making a difference. “Give yourselves a round of applause.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters currently supports more than 40,000 kids in more than 1,100 communities across Canada, providing mentoring, direction and inspiration. For more information, or to make a donation, see