Thanks to a huge response from Howard Payne University students, the Big Brother Big Sister program has over 60 inquiries for “bigs.” Now all they need is some “littles” to match them with.

The youngsters with whom BBBS works come from all walks of life and the program itself is a huge help especially to vulnerable kids and kids in single parent homes.

“I think that kids with single parents need a little extra help, especially if the parent is of opposite gender,” said Shane Blackshear, regional executive director of BBBS in Brownwood. “Kids need a role model like a big brother or big sister in that kind of situation.”

According to Blackshear, there are two programs that the littles and bigs can work through.

The first program, he says, is a community-based program where the volunteers who are bigs go to the littles’ homes and pick them up to hang out and shoot hoops, share a pizza, take a walk or just talk.

“The community-based program requires a year’s commitment and is six to eight hours a month,” Blackshear said.

The second program, Blackshear said, is a school-based program where most of the Howard Payne students will probably be placed. The bigs are required to spend a minimum of 30 minutes to one hour per week with their little, which usually takes place during the youngsters’ lunch and recess periods.

“Most HPU students volunteer in the school-based program because a lot of them leave during the summer, but we still ask that those bigs keep in touch with their little by phone over the summer,” Blackshear said.

According to Blackshear, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Brownwood currently has 34 matches and hopes to get more. Since the program has an abundance of leaders, it hopes to have more children involved in the program because of the benefits.

An informational booth with prizes and refreshments is planned from 5 to 6 p.m. today at Weakley-Watson’s sporting goods location downtown, at East Baker and Fisk. Parents with children who they think might benefit are encouraged to look into the opportunity.

“We change lives of children who are matched,” Blackshear said. “Children who go through the program are much more likely to stay in school, graduate from a four-year college, have a higher income and have better relationships with their family and peers.”

Although 60 Howard Payne students have inquired about becoming a big, Blackshear said that he still wants to have more residents volunteer.

“We still need volunteers, even after all the inquiries from Howard Payne. We want to make a positive impact,” Blackshear said.

To become a volunteer, to enroll a child or to get more information on the program, call Blackshear at the local agency at (325) 643-5600 or go the Web site at www.bbbstx.org.