SYCAMORE – In a few weeks, Kara Gallagher will be a Big Sister.
The DeKalb resident was just accepted into the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, and as a celebration of sorts, she attended its Cooking for Kids’ Sake fundraiser at St. Mary’s Hall in Sycamore to show her support for the community.
Gallagher, who will be matched with a child soon, said she wanted to join the organization to be a mentor.
“I like to encourage people and give them the opportunity to be encouraged,” she said. “If they feel strongly about something, they can do it. Everybody could use some encouraging, positive influence.”
Children cooked and served bite-sized portions to guests as part of the fundraiser, which benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters programs, such as the afterschool program, said Courtney Denison, the organization director.
Children in three age groups – middle school, high school and family – competed to win chef's coats with their names printed on them.
A balloon artist gave attendees balloon animals, and a chef from Kishwaukee Hospital served carnitas tostadas and gave cooking advice to interested guests.
Little Brother Cody Lawson, 16, was serving goulash with his Big Brother, Mike Schaaff.
Schaaff said being a Big Brother is rewarding because Lawson has made significant improvements in the three and a half years they’ve known each other.
“[Cody] had a problem where he didn’t go to school for half a year,” Schaaff said. “So I told him, ‘If you go to school, then I will too.’”
Schaaff is studying economics this semester.
The experience is rewarding for Lawson as well.
“He’s fun,” Lawson said. “He’s a positive role model. He keeps telling me to go to the Army when I turn 18.” Schaaff served in the Air Force.
Cortland resident Tammie Cross was with her Little Sister, Elisabeth Boothe, serving an animal cracker dessert.
Boothe said she likes to be with Cross to get out of the house and play with Cross’ dog, Raspberry.
For Cross, the time with her Little Sister is valuable because she doesn’t have children of her own.
Cross was matched with Boothe two weeks before Christmas last year.
“She was my Christmas present,” Cross said. “I love hanging out with her. I get to do kid things and not have an excuse.”
There are 39 children on the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization’s waiting list. To volunteer, call Laura at 815-758-8616.