Friday, August 18, 2017

15 Tips to Prepare for the 2017 School Year

Summer break is winding down and the new school year is almost upon us! Get your family ready with these creative tips to better prepare you for early morning bus rides, last-minute projects, and everything in between!

Practice Makes Perfect

Summer break is a time meant for staying up late, sleeping in, and tons of fun for most kids, but the school year is coming fast and that means everyone’s schedules will soon change! Help to get your child prepared with these simple changes.


  1. Implement a New Wake-up Time – Wake them up earlier each day as we get closer to classes starting.
  2. Set a Bedtime – This will allow them to wake up easier in the morning, and feel rested throughout the day.
  3. Walk Through Their Schedule – Usually during open house, you are allowed to walk through your child’s schedule and check out their locker. This can be a great way to help them feel more at ease on their first day of classes.
  4. Clean Out the Closest – The new school year is the perfect excuse to go through old clothes and clean out any that no longer fit.
  5. Ride Schedule – Discuss with your child(ren) whether they will be riding the bus, going to an after school program, or getting dropped off/picked up by a family member.

Create an Action Plan

Having an action plan can help you to be prepared ahead of time and ready to rock the school year!

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  1. Calendars and Planners – Having a schedule available that the entire family can see is helpful in planning. An extra step that may be even more helpful is to discuss the upcoming week as a family.
  2. Daily Routine – Create a daily routine chart for the kiddos to follow showing the essential to-dos such as eating breakfast, doing homework, and bedtime.
  3. Manage the Menu – In order to help you stay on track throughout the week, create a weekly family dinner menu! Each family member could choose a meal for one evening each week and the rest could be filled in together.
  4. Weekly Wardrobe – At the beginning of each week, help your child(ren) pick out their outfits and hang or fold them in order so that they know what outfit is for each day.
  5. Prepare the Pantry – To make meal prepping for the school day easier, designate a pantry or cupboard space for packing lunches.
  6. Score on Storing Essentials – Store shoes, backpacks, jackets, and everything else that is essential to the school day together so that it is all in one place and easy to grab on the go. Go through everything the night before to ensure it is ready to go come morning!


Just In Case

Last-minute homework assignments and practices can come up, so check out these tips to ensure that you and your kids are ready for anything!



  1. Supply Stash – Have a stash of supplies stored away for the “just in case” moments, such as a major last-minute project, donation boxes, or simply running out of the essentials mid-year.
  2. Book Basket – Have a basket for library books that need to be returned placed near their other daily school essentials to prevent late returns or fees at the end of the school year.
  3. Mobile Caddy – To complete daily homework or major projects at home, create a mobile caddy with school supplies.
  4. Have a Back-up Plan – If you child rides the bus home and relies on a key to get into the house, make sure to have a key hidden or the garage code written somewhere that they can find it for an easy back-up plan. If they are ever to get picked up by a neighbor or family friend, have a code word that only your family knows to identify the correct person that is picking them up.


For more tips, check out Good Housekeeping’s website or Healthychildren.org.

To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters and how you can get involved, check out our Facebook page and website! From all of us here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MN, we wish you an exciting and stress-free upcoming school year!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Get Ready Fore BIG Fun: The 2017 Golf Fore Kids’ Sake Tournament!

Get your clubs ready to tee off at our 11th annual Golf Fore Kids’ Sake golf tournament! Join us at the Territory Golf Course on Monday, August 21st at 11 AM for this incredible event. Proceeds go towards the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota Youth Mentorship program.


Solar Eclipse

Need even more of a reason to join the tournament? This year during the tournament, from 11:40 am – 1 pm, there will be a solar eclipse! Almost 82% of the sun will be blocked by the moon at the peak of the eclipse, so you will get to witness a natural phenomenon while making phenomenal plays on the course.

Paying Tribute

This year, we also have a special individual that we are honoring during our Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournament; Michael Moores. Michael passed away suddenly in November, and was only 49 years old. As a former BBBS Board Member and a Big Brother for 8 years, Michael Moores was an important part of BBBS.

Registration

Sign up today to join us for this fun-filled day on the course! A team of 4 costs $400, which includes meal tickets, golf carts, and 18 holes of golf for the entire team. Registration on the day of the event begins at 10 AM.

Donations and Sponsorship

We are still accepting donations and sponsorship for the event, and would love to hear from you! If you are interested in donating prizes, email Khamara at bbbs@bbbscentralmn.org, or call 320 258-4511. If you would like to become a sponsor for the Golf Fore Kids’ Sake tournament, check out our sponsorship information for the various options.


Thank you for all of your donations and support to both our current and future sponsors! For more information on how you can get involved and become a Big, check out our ‘Get Involved’ page! We hope to see you on August 21st!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

A BIG Thing You Didn’t Know About Being a Big!

Being a Big gives you the opportunity to impact a child’s life and to transform their tomorrow for the better. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, we are always looking for people who are hoping to positively impact both a child and their community. Families and couples are always welcome to join, so why not become a BIG deal together in a child’s life today?


Unconventional Opportunities to Make a Difference

Did you know that you can become a Big in the form of an individual, a family, or a couple? You have numerous options and opportunities to impact a child’s life where it counts and you don’t have to do it alone!

Many people think that being a Big means being an individual of the same gender as the Little that is placed with them, but that is simply not the case. As a family or a couple, you are more than welcome to become a Big and share double the love and fun with your Little!


If you are interested in more information we have two information sessions each month that are commitment-free and allow you to learn more about the enrollment process and what it means to be a Big. This month's next session will be Saturday, June 24th at 9-10:30 AM. These sessions are held at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Office at 203 Cooper Ave North in St. Cloud.


Ready to become a Big deal? Check out more information here. You can also call (320) 253-1616 or email Emily at recruiter@bbbscentralmn.org.

Go Big and make a positive impact in a Little’s life today!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bring Big Fun to Your Little This Summer

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and nature’s colors are back in full force, so why not get outside and enjoy this summer? Central Minnesota provides endless opportunities to get outdoors and have exciting activities with yourLlittle. Check out these options for a little inspiration and a lot of fun.

Make a Splash

Check out the three local splash pad locations for a fun-filled way to ward off the heat. Lake George/Eastman Park, Riverside Park, and Westwood Park are all officially open as of May 15th and will remain open for use until September 15th (weather permitting). Hours are 9 AM – 7 PM daily. To find more information visit the city of Saint Cloud website and get splashing!

Dive into Nature

If you and your Little want to be active outdoors and explore this summer, visit Saint John’s University Abbey Arboretum. With more than 15 miles of hiking trails, you and your Little will be busy all day long. For more information and a map of the trails visit their arboretum information guide. For even more to do at the arboretum, check out their website.

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Catch a Home Run

Are you looking for peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and an evening full of excitement? Check out the Saint Cloud Rox baseball team, the local Northwoods League team that promises fun for all ages. Hoping to adventure out of town for a bit? Sundays are Kids Days at Twins games for kids 14 and under. This includes player autographs, half-price meals for kids, and running the bases after the game. Visit the Kids Day page for specialty days that the kids can receive gifts for being one of the first 10,000 people through the gates.

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Rides, and Ring Toss, and Funnel Cake, Oh my!

Summer fairs and festivals are an exciting way to experience endless fun together! Including a petting zoo, rides, games, musical performances, and a derby, the Benton County Fair in Sauk Rapids runs from August 1st – 6th this summer. Hours vary depending on the day. Local parades and town celebrations allow you two to grab some candy and celebrate the state’s various towns, as well. Check out other county fairs and town festivals in the area.

Hoping to experience the largest fair in MN this summer? The MN State Fair, located in Saint Paul, runs from August 24th – September 4th. Hours vary depending on the days and attractions you visit.

Feel an Adrenaline Rush

Make a trip to Valleyfair this summer and enjoy rides to satisfy the gentlest rider to the most adventurous thrill seeker – not to mention the massive outdoor waterpark. Open from the end of May to the beginning of September, the park's hours vary depending on the day. Beginning in September, the amusement park turns into Valleyscare, extending the frightful fun into the fall!

Is the weather outside not ideal but you and your Little still want to enjoy a day of adrenaline-pumping fun? Head to MOA – Mall of America, located in Bloomington, for a day full of adventure! Enjoy Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life, Legoland, and more. Nickelodeon Universe is a fully indoor amusement park containing rides for all ages. Sea Life is an enclosed underwater adventure where you can view sharks and various water creatures. Legoland is a free area to walk through and play with Legos while admiring gigantic Lego structures. Check out MOA’s attractions website for more information.

For discounted ticket coupons for Valleyfair, Nickelodeon Universe, and Sea Life check your local Subway and Credit Union locations.


Central MN offers endless opportunities to get you and your Little on the move. Connect with other pairs from the Big Brothers Big Sisters network for more ideas. If you are looking for even more options to get out and explore, read our past blogs on fun activities to try with your Little, or visit community bulletin websites such as aroundthecloud.org and fun4kidsmn.com.

If you are interested in volunteering, donating, enrolling a child, or for more activity ideas check out Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MN!



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The 2017 Magic Moments Gala

On April 7th, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Minnesota held our annual Magic Moments Gala. We’re happy to report that this year’s event was a great success!
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Attended by supporters around the community, we filled the River’s Edge Convention Center with hundreds of kind-hearted people concerned about the youth in our community. Local vendors and businesses supplied beverages and donated items to our silent and live auctions. Volunteers sold raffle tickets, and guests were even treated to a vocal performance.

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After the silent auction closed, the evening began with a welcome greeting from Debbie Clausen and Julie McHugh, co-chairs of the event. Emcee, author, and co-founder of Top 20 Training Willow Sweeney spoke throughout the night about a mentor’s importance.

 
After a delicious meal, Willow Sweeney presented entertainer Ashley DuBose to perform for the crowd. DuBose, whom you may recognize from season 5 of The Voice, spoke of her beginnings in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. As Ashley explained, she and her former Big, Donna, remain very close. DuBose even wore earrings that her Big had given her as a gift while she performed. Among the three songs she performed throughout the night, Ashley sang her latest release, Be You, which she explained was an introspective piece partially based on the lessons she learned as a Little with the BBBS Program.

 
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A video slide show of area Bigs and Littles played throughout the night on the big screens. Videos of this year’s award winners played, and an emotional Karl Johnson accepted the 2017 BriAnna Kruzel Growing Up Big Award. BriAnna’s mother, Tami was in attendance to present the award. Karl became a big in 10th grade and continued on until his sophomore year of college. He is currently finishing up an internship with the United Way and will be graduating this spring from SCSU with a degree in Social Work.

The live auction, presented by Andrew Imholte of Black Diamond Auctions featured some fantastic prizes this year:


  • Party on the Patio: A walking tour of the Fairview Gardens Greenhouse and Nursery and a catered meal and drinks provided by Famous Dave’s, Westside Liquor, and C&L Distributing 
  • A Day on the Lake for eight people: Pontoon Rental from Westres Marine and Sport, a $100 gift certificate to Ernie’s on Gull Lake, drinks provided by Bernick’s and snacks from Pepperidge Farm. 
  • A pig roast for 130 people: Roasted pig and sides prepared by Chef Geno Skaj of Trobec’s Bar and Grill, drinks from Westside Liquor and Bernick’s, and snacks from Pepperidge Farm. 
  • A Timberwolves Chairman’s Club package with accommodations for 12 people. All-inclusive dining with a world-renowned chef and a suite attendant and parking passes for three vehicles. Donated by Federated Insurance
  • A guided Muskie trip for 2 on Lake Alexander by Our North Muskie Guide Service. Dinner provided by The Landing at Lake Alexander
  • One week rental of a Luxurious Class C motor home from PleasureLand RV. Snacks were provided by Pepperidge Farm along with soda from Bernicks.

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As the last item up for bid, auctioneer Andrew Imholte surprised the crowd with TWO one-week RV rental packages. Following the live auction, Imholte opened the floor to the Fund-A-Dream donation. This year’s goal was $40,000, and we are happy to report that The Magic Moments Gala raised an amazing $185,00 for our mentoring program!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s Gala. It is with the support and donations of our community that we are able to continue doing our work for the youth of central Minnesota.

Stay tuned for more information on other events taking place throughout the year. The Federated Challenge golf challenge will take place August 6th and 7th at the St. Paul River Centre, and our annual Golf Fore Kids’ Sake event will take place August 21st at Territory Golf Club. View photos from last year’s event and learn more info on our website.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Burst into Spring with Exciting New Activities for Your Little

After a long winter, are you ready to burst into spring with exciting new adventures? Central Minnesota offers plenty of opportunities to learn, explore, and experience. What fun adventures will you and your Little enjoy this year? Add these activities to your calendar for an action-packed spring!
Take a Trip to the Zoo
giraffes-69141_640.jpgThe Twin Cities is fortunate enough to have two zoos! Both the Minnesota Zoo and the Como Zoo are open all year and highly ranked by visitors. The Como Zoo is free and has a popular botanical garden while the Minnesota Zoo has a well-beloved bird show that kids of all ages will enjoy.


A little closer to Central Minnesota, you’ll find the Safari North Animal Park. Open seasonally, this exotic animal park features exhibits from North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Visit the park’s activities page to learn more about interactive activities you and your Little can do together.


Get the Creative Juices Flowing
Encouraging creativity in kids from a young age can motivate them to become more open-minded, inventive, eager to try new things, and confident. Engage in creative activities that will challenge your Little. Inspire unique art projects, engage in science experiments, test out new recipes, write stories or songs, or play challenging new games.


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Open a Book
Introduce your Little to new worlds and stories with the power of reading. The Great River Regional Library has plenty of volumes and learning resources to enjoy. Take advantage of the variety of special events, guest readers, and interactive activities that the library has to offer. Take a look at their calendar for a schedule of events.
forest-386751_640.jpgTake a Hike
Promote a fit lifestyle with your Little by hitting the trails! The Greater St. Cloud community has a network of hiking, biking, and walking trails around the community. This can also be an excellent way for your little to experience the environment around their community. Consider making a nature scavenger hunt to encourage their interests in the environment or logging all the new trails you visit to keep track of the places you explore together.


Stay Active Indoors
With recreational complexes like Whitney Recreation Center, the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Center, and the recreational spaces at St. Cloud State University, there are endless places to explore and play. Go bowling, swimming, jumping in trampoline parks, and more for some memorable adventures.
Use your Resources.
Community bulletins like aroundthecloud.org, paramountarts.org, and fun4kidsmn.com make for excellent resources if you are in need of new activities. Take advantage of the vast Big Brothers Big Sisters network to discover new interests or connect with another pair for a day. Trying new and fresh activities occasionally can keep things exciting and can help your Little become more adventurous!
For more fun ideas, to volunteer, or to enroll your child, visit our website at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How Can You Do a Lot for a Little?

For some, becoming a Big can seem like a larger commitment than they think they’re ready for. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, we try to provide opportunities that allow potential Bigs to see if it’s the right fit for them before pledging their time. We have established a wide range of initiatives that generate interest in our programs and benefit the community and local businesses as well!



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Big for a Day is a great way for companies and organizations to get involved with BBBS of Central MN. This initiative is exactly what it sounds like; adult volunteers from your company or organization get to be a Big Brother or Big Sister for a day!


What can being a Big for a day look like? In Roanoke, VA, the host of the morning show Daytime Blue Ridge volunteered to be Dymun Austin’s Big for a day. Dymun got to see what goes on behind the scenes of the show and she even got to help cook on a live cooking segment! If Big for a Day sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in, click here for more information.
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Among many others, we also have programs for Big Couples, which allows a pair of two to mentor one child. Big Families allows a Big with children of their own to bring their Little to family activities so that they don’t have to choose between time with their Little or their family. Sports Buddies allows adults with a passion for sports to help build friendships and model good sportsmanship. Sports Buddies also provides interactive opportunities for sports teams or organizations to get involved with BBBS!
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There are a ton more options for military, police, faith-based, or education-seeking programs–to name a few. For a full list of all the special initiatives that are available, visit our website.


As you can see, there are several other ways to get involved with BBBS aside from becoming a traditional Big. Since we have an all-time high number of kids on the waiting list, all of us at BBBS—the Littles, especially—welcome and encourage your participation in our programs, no matter what level of commitment you’re able to give!