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Big Sibling, Big Rewards

by Kat Biggerstaff

Ever been through a horrendous break up with your main squeeze and felt lonely, upset, tired, and unloved? One great way to get out of that rut is to think about someone else for a change ... how about someone who really needs you? I did this through my town's program called "Adopt-A-Sibling" -- they're nearly everywhere -- sponsored by day-care and child service agencies. The program takes all the names of children from single-parent homes without older brothers or sisters, and files them as potential "little brothers/sisters."

If you're between 13 and 19, you can volunteer to take as many kids as you want out for at least two days a week, with a minimum of one hour a day. The kids really appreciate anything you do with them and for them -- go out for ice cream, to the park, maybe a movie. Whatever you do together, it's totally worth all your time to see the smile on their faces and to hear them tell you that they love spending time with you.

One of the kids I chose to sponsor is named Alayna, and she's 8. She lives with her grandmother, because one year ago, her parents and older brother were killed in an accident on the way home from one of her brother's baseball games. Her grandmother is 75 years old and has trouble walking, cannot drive, and doesn't have much energy to play with her, but she tries as hard as she can to make Alayna's life normal. Alayna is a petite little girl with light brown hair and bright green eyes and a wonderful personality. She's very open about what has happened to her throughout her life and is also very compassionate towards other people. I've been sponsoring Alayna for about 6 months now and she's been wonderful the whole time. Even when I didn't have my driving permit and we had to walk a mile to the snow cone shop, she smiled and laughed all the way. Now, we take drives to the park and I'll sit next to her on a swing and we'll just talk about life and school.

This program has brought me so many rewards in life. It's taught me patience, shown me how young children can be smarter and go through a lot more than we think, and also has helped me to know what to do to bond with my little sister as she grows -- and it takes my mind off my own problems, which, when I'm with these kids, all of a sudden don't seem like such a big deal. I hope every teenager gets a chance to be involved in something like this, because, unlike the bad feelings after a breakup, the feeling you get when you see them smile because of something you've done for them will stay with you forever.

Katina "Kat" Biggerstaff is a sophmore at AC Jones High who likes music and sports.

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