Hundreds of students and families turned out for Saturday’s back-to-school event at Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami, receiving school supplies, toys, food, and some even meeting their paired-up families for the first time.
The youth mentoring nonprofit organization partnered with local businesses to collect supplies through drives, as well as what was contributed by the public through an Amazon wish list.
“There’s so many children that need our help. There’s so many children that just want a mentor, or they want a Big Brother or a Big Sister, and unfortunately, we have children that are waiting for that. We need more volunteers,” Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami Senior Vice President of Programs Aimee Ariola said. “All of our Littles are amazing. They have so much potential. They just need someone to believe in them and tell, ‘You can do this.'”
Local 5th grade students were volunteering Saturday, as well, handing out toys to Littles. Free food, books, haircuts and EKGs were available, in addition to resources for parents, such as mental health supports and financial literacy training.
“Unfortunately, during COVID, a lot of our kids really suffered. I think a lot of our kids sort of became very introverted, became not as as communicative as they should,” Ariola said. “I think, nowadays, a lot of our kids have access to social media and they put on this façade that everything is wonderful, but they’re really losing that aspect of really connecting with someone, of really just sharing what’s really going on inside.”
Big Brother and Big Sister matches with Miami’s Littles are working to address mental health concerns, and give the area’s youngest residents some with whom they can connect.
“It’s a blessing,” mom Zoe Georgiadis said. “I’ve been trying not to cry all day.”