Bowl for Kids’ Sake at area bowling lanes to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters

PUNXSUTAWNEY — If you’re looking for a night out with the family or an opportunity to hang out with friends, you might have the chance to
combine it with donating to a good cause — the Bowl for Kids’ Sake event is coming to Jefferson County, with three different sessions scheduled: one at Brookville Lanes and two at Groundhog Lanes in Punxsutawney.

“Bowl for Kids’ Sake is our biggest fundraiser that supports local Big Brothers Big Sisters programs,” said Heidi Stahlnecker, program coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jefferson, Elk and McKean counties.

The event comes from the national Big Brothers Big Sisters, which recommends that all affiliates participate. However, all the money that’s raised in the local area stays in the local area.

There are three events currently scheduled.

The first takes place at 3 p.m. on March 9 at Brookville Lanes. The second is set for 4 p.m. on March 16 at Groundhog Lanes. Both of those are open to whomever wishes to participate. The third is set for 7 p.m. on March 16 at Groundhog Lanes, and it’s only for adults: “Kind of like a date night out,” Stahlnecker said.

There are a number of ways to help out with the events. The way for most people to lend a hand — while having some fun at the same time — is to get a team of family members or friends together to raise money and bowl at the event.

Once a team is registered, BBBS sends its members envelopes to collect their pledges — each member is expected to raise $35 — and gives them ideas for how to raise the money. Normally, the way to do it is to get family members and friends to sponsor a team.

Then, on the day of the event, teams show up at the location and time for which they registered.

“And they just have a good time,” Stalhnecker said. “We try really hard to make it fun for people.”

And if you don’t particularly want to bowl, that’s one of the areas with which you might still be able to help.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake usually features additional activities, such as Minute to Win It games, hula hoop contests and DJs.

Last year, the events featured an Elvis impersonator and a magician. Nevertheless, they’re always looking for more entertainment.

“I think that’s a draw for people,” Stahlnecker said. “The more fun it is, the more likely they are to come back.”

Anyone with a special skill or set of skills is welcome to volunteer to keep the players entertained, whether it’s clowning, making balloon animals, performing magic tricks, doing a stand-up comedy routine or playing music with a band.

However, you don’t need a special skill set.

The event is also accepting volunteers for some of the different activities — working on prize patrol, facilitating the Minute to Win It games or helping out with the food, which is provided free to

“There are lots of things that they could do that are easy,” Stahlnecker said. “It doesn’t take any special skill or anything.”

In addition, area businesses and organizations are asked to be sponsors — specifically, by sponsoring lanes at any of the events. The businesses and organizations donate money, and in return, BBBS provides them with some advertising both at the events and elsewhere.

“Any time we’re doing an interview, we’re mentioning our major sponsors,” Stalhnecker said.

Sponsoring organizations begin by sending a registration form to BBBS via fax, email or mail indicating which of several “levels” of sponsorship they would like to tackle. Different levels will result in different avenues of advertising at the events and beyond.

The organizations currently on that level for this year’s events are Community Action, Inc., the Punxsutawney Fraternal Order of the Eagles Post 1231, the Reynoldsville American Legion Post 392 and Mega Rock.
Sponsoring businesses are also advertised at the event.

Programs listing all of the sponsors are handed out to participants.

BBBS also makes placemats containing ads for the sponsors that are given free to restaurants, with the size of the donation determining the size of the ad.

Businesses and organizations that can’t do that can still help out, however, by donating products for the events, such as food and supplies. Depending on how much that assistance is worth, BBBS might make those organizations full lane sponsors and give them access to the same advertising benefits.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake has been taking place annually in the county since 2008, when the Guidance Center expanded BBBS into Jefferson County. Last year, the event drew in $6,472 for the local BBBS program.

Stahlnecker said this year’s goal is $12,000.

BBBS uses the proceeds in two main areas. The first covers the costs surrounding the Big Brothers Big Sisters matches.

When BBBS makes a match, it sends professional casework staff to do in-person interviews with volunteers and children.

There’s also a clearance process involving reference and background checks.

Match support specialists also contact parents, children and mentors involved in the program once a month throughout the life of the match, ensuring that the relationship is safe and beneficial and providing resources for the families.

Secondly, it also helps to pay for group events facilitated by BBBS to give matches an opportunity to have free activities to do together.

Registration continues up until the dates of the respective Bowl for Kids’ Sake events.

To register, volunteer to help out or have your business or organization sponsor a lane, call toll free at 1-877-776-1636 or visit

There are currently 10 teams registered, split about half and half between Brookville Lanes and Groundhog Lanes.

The overall capacity between the two is 40 teams; however, Stahlnecker said that if the response is overwhelming, particularly in Punxsutawney, additional flights could be added.

If you can’t help out with Bowl for Kids’ Sake but would like to support Big Brothers Big Sisters, there are options open for you as well.

“Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer,” Stalhnecker said. “BBBS of Jefferson County is currently in need of mentors to work with the kids. At any given time, we have at least 40 children on the wait list. Kids can be waiting a long time, depending, so we need mentors everywhere in Jefferson County.”