By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- There are dozens of children who would love to curl up with a good book and dive deep into a colorful story full of action and excitement.
They just need a little help understanding what's on the page.
This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie County has stepped up to address this need, and has set a goal to find 50 new mentors by Dec. 31.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters program works by matching adult volunteer "Bigs" with school-age "Littles" who might need some help or encouragement.
But these new mentors would be specifically to help grow a love for reading.
"This is a reading-based mentor program," said Rachel Heddings, director of marketing and events for BBBS. "We're doing a focus on students in grades kindergarten through third grade."
Even though the school year has already started, Ms. Heddings says it's not too late.
"Volunteers can join anytime," she said. "We are hoping to have 50 new mentors by the end of this year and match 145 children by the end of the school year."
Currently, Big Brothers Big Sisters has 148 mentors in St. Lucie County.
"There are so many great kids in St. Lucie County who just need someone to come alongside them and show them that they can do it and that they are worth something," said Jenni Palm, vice president of programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters. "Mentoring does that, and it doesn't take any special skills. It just takes being a friend to a child."
After a careful screening process, the mentor would read with the child for a small amount of time each week. And it's not just individual volunteers who help out. Many times, businesses allow employees to take part of their day to participate in the program. The community-based program has been helping St. Lucie County students since 1984.
Littles are selected based on referrals from teachers.
"It's about an hour a week to help a child," she said.
Another thing the non-profit group is doing to raise awareness of their programs is holding a holiday social on Dec. 8 at Treasure Coast Lexus in Fort Pierce.
The first-time event will feature refreshments, live music and raffles. Tickets are $15 per person or $25 per couple.
Also available at the event will be a table highlighting how easy it is to volunteer to be a mentor.
But the highlight of the evening will be a special fashion show "Runway of Dreams."
The Littles will have mini makeovers, along with their Bigs, by Hair Cuttery, Rosie Stubbs with Avon and Ellie's House of Hair. They will then walk together in fashions courtesy of Whimsy Clothing Boutique.
"It's called the 'Runway of Dreams' because while the Littles are walking, we will be reading their short biographies and their future dreams," Ms. Heddings said. "It's going to be a great day for everyone."
The holiday social will take place from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 8 at Treasure Coast Lexus, 5121 S. U.S. 1 in Fort Pierce.
For more information on the event or on being a mentor, call Big Brothers Big Sisters at (772) 466-8535.