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Big Brothers Big Sisters continues matching kids virtually

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (BBBSCI) aren’t letting the virus stop them from matching children during a time when connecting with others is vital.

The organization is going virtual by using technology to still fulfill their mission during the pandemic.

The organization’s CEO Darcey Palmer-Shultz says more than 1,000 kids, better known as “Littles” are at home interacting with their individual mentor, or “Big” while social distancing.

Ryan Cutter has served as a “Big” in the program for two years. He is continuing to communicate with 10-year-old Dlondre several days a week via FaceTime.

“I think he’s getting a little bit sick of me making sure he’s getting his homework done and reading and focusing on school,” Cutter said.

Palmer-Shultz said the program has made three matches virtually.

“It starts with a staff member scheduling essentially a video call where the parent, the child and volunteer,” she said. “We go through the introduction, we go through guidelines, we’ve made some updates to help them navigate through this a little bit differently.”

Bigs and Littles have been encouraged to keep each other lifted by playing online games, and sending each other letters or care packages.

“It is tough just not being able to give him a hug when I see him or taking him to a special event or do something for him so it’s manageable for now,” said Cutter.

One of the proram’s requirements is for Bigs to spend at least 4-6 hours a month interacting with their Littles, but many BBBSCI organizations have said interactions have been more frequent since going virtual.

Palmer-Shultz says the support is needed more than ever before.

“When kids are disconnected from their schools, from their recreational activities, from maybe church and other groups and to be able to connect them with people in a program that intends to be apart of that too and still keep that moving forward makes a big difference,” she said.

Click here to learn more about BBBSCI and how you can be a “Big” or “Little.”