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Hoops for Kids’ Sake raises funds for program

Organizers of this year’s Hoops for Kids’ Sake charitybasketball tournament say they’re excited about the turnout andparticipation.

The two-day, double-elimination tournament took place Friday andSaturday at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in the CommunityLife Center.

The teams played within age groups for children and adults, andprizes and trophies were presented to the winning team in eachdivision.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentoring program which hasprovided role models to 178 children in the Lincoln County areathis year, said president Marilyn Dow-Harris.

To fund the tournament and raise money for Big Brothers BigSisters, each team was asked to raise money for sponsorships. Eachteam raised its entry fee as well as other donations to go directlyto the organizations.

The program matches high school students with elementarystudents, allowing them to spend time together and get to know eachother.

“We have programs at all the city and county schools, as well asat Brookhaven Academy,” said Dow-Harris. “This tournament supportsthe operation of the whole tournament.”

She said the program is an important one because it helps boththe mentees and the mentors grow and become accountable andresponsible young people.

“It’s so important because it helps the children,” saidDow-Harris. “Most children that enroll in this program end upfinishing high school and going to college, and they’re not likelyto indulge in crime.”

She said by looking up to a good role model, the children learnto become good role models.

“This affects whether or not they get involved in drugs, ithelps their self-esteem – it affects every aspect of a child’slife,” she said. “Not just the child who is being mentored, but thementor as well, because they have someone who is looking up tothem.”

Dow-Harris said the program has been in place long enough nowthat the children who were among the first mentees are now, in mostcases, mentors.

“You’re producing your own volunteers,” she said. “That’s a realtestament as to how well this program works.”

In addition, she said, many kinds of children can be reached bythe mentoring program.

“There are a lot of young men in single-parent homes, and theyjust need a male role model. They’re not in trouble or anything,but they just need a man to look up to,” Dow-Harris said. “And somekids are just shy, and need someone to help them come out of theirshells.”

Volunteer Maxine Jones said the program is supported within thecommunity.

“We have 178 matches this year, and any money we make goes backinto the program,” she said. “It supports itself through eventslike this.”

Jones and Dow-Harris said although the basketball tournamentonly lasted the weekend, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program canalways use donations from well-wishers.

“We’ve had some very generous donations, and we’re stillaccepting donations from local businesses and the public,” shesaid. “Funds are always very much-needed.”