‘Bigs’ accompany ‘Littles’ on special trip

A.C. Moore’s Big Brothers Big Sisters participants and chaperones pose for a photo before leaving for Mobile.

Eighteen A.C. Moore Elementary School students who participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program got a special treat last Friday (January 27) when they traveled to Mobile. They met and interacted with college football players from across the country who took part in Saturday’s Reese’s Senior Bowl.

The group of Little Brothers and Little Sisters, accompanied by 10 “Bigs,” A.C. Moore Librarian Kellie Steele and ACM Nurse Sarah Smith, joined the collegiate all-stars at Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, where the athletes, were visiting patients. Earlier, the players had visited several Mobile-area schools and read to students as part of the sponsor’s community involvement program.

Charlotte Stanton, a retail operations supervisor for United Bank in Atmore, was one of those who accompanied the wide-eyed youngsters. Stanton said the entire group had a blast.

“The trip was fun for us all, and the children had a great time,” she said. “The (hospital) staff and everyone else we interacted with were amazing. The players took up a lot of time with the youngsters. They even knelt down to their level to answer questions. It was really a great trip.”

Stanton said she has been a Big Sister for only a month but has already gotten a lot out of the relationship she has forged with her young protégé.

“I’ve only been doing it for about a month, but it’s an amazing experience,” she said. “My ‘Little’ is starting to come out of her shell, and I love to see her smile and run up to me when I come to the school. Just to be able to help her have a brighter day is rewarding to me. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and be her friend; I hope she gets as much out of it as I do.”

Zack Stewart, a captain with the Atmore Fire Department, shared similar sentiments.

“I did this initially as a way to give back to the community, to help out with kids who maybe need someone in their lives they can look up to,” he said. “After meeting my ‘Little,’ I get as much out of it as he does. I enjoy coming up here and meeting with him every week. We go out and play basketball; we talk about school, and we talk about life.”

The firefighter said he has been told there is some tangible evidence that proves the one-on-one is working.

“Just since I’ve been meeting with him, they say his grades are already coming up,” he said. “It (the program) definitely helps with all of them. You see them all over town, and they recognize you. It’s been rewarding for him; it’s been rewarding for me, too. It’s definitely a good program.”