Lace up your bowling shoes it's time to "Bowl for Kids' Sake."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge's Carbon County chapter will host its annual "Bowl for Kids' Sake" Bowlathon on Saturday, March 23 at Fritz's Lanes and Pro Shop in Lehighton, board members announced last week. The board is actively seeking bowling teams and sponsors for the event.

"The bowlathon pays for more than 50 percent of our budget," says Big Brothers Big Sisters caseworker Jenna Sargent. "This helps to keep our program going." The board's goal is to raise $5,000 through the bowlathon. Additional funding comes from other sources, including United Way.

While the bowlathon will be held in Lehighton, children and adults from all areas of Carbon County are encouraged to take part in "Bowl for Kids' Sake." (Bumpers are available for the youngest bowlers.) Members of the community can register as bowling teams for the event, and will receive one game of bowling and shoe rentals at no cost. In return, each bowler is asked to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters by securing individual sponsors.

Team captains will receive a free T-shirt; all team members are eligible to receive a T-shirt, sweat shirt and other prizes based on the amount of money that they raise for the fundraiser. Door prizes will also be offered to all registered bowlers.

In addition to raising funds, the bowlathon also raises awareness of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in the community. Big Brothers Big Sisters offers mentoring services to children and families and offers children a positive role model in the community. Local chapters were founded in 1974. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bridge (Northeastern Pennsylvania) currently serves more than 500 children. The Carbon County chapter currently has five big-little matches and is actively seeking families and volunteers who might benefit from the program.

"There are children on the waiting list, waiting to be matched," said Sargent. She noted that children with a positive role model are more likely to go to college and succeed academically and socially in school, and less likely to begin abusing drugs or alcohol.

Bigs and Littles in Carbon County are part of a "community-based" program, in which volunteers pick up children for an activity and return the child to their home at the end of the visit. Activities include anything from going to the park to playing sports or going to the movies, and volunteers are asked to commit 1-3 hours per week to meet with their Little. All activities are approved by a parent.

"Volunteers are asked to make a commitment for 1 year, but we have had volunteers matched with their Little for up to 4 or 5 years," she added.

In addition to seeking bowlers and sponsors for the event, the Carbon County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is also looking for volunteers for the bowlathon and to serve as board members. The board meets once per month during the school year.

To learn more about "Bowl for Kids' Sake" or to register a bowling team or sponsor the program, go to www.bbbsnepa.org [1] or call (800) 955-4376.