Once a week, "Big Brother" Harold Roebuck has lunch at the school of his "Little Brother," Marcus Scholtz, an 11-year-old who is being raised by a single parent.
Last week they went fishing, and Tuesday, Marcus will be spending a few hours at Roebuck's county road and bridge office in Lake Placid as part of Take Your Little To Work Day.
A grandfather with two grown sons, Roebuck understands the need for a positive role model in a little boy's life.
While he started off his mentoring by only meeting Marcus in school, he has branched off into "community-based" activities to spend more time on the 11-year-old's studies and expose him to other activities he may not otherwise encounter.
Roebuck is part of a cadre of mentoring volunteers Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast desperately needs, said Federico "Kiko" Vazquez, the group's Highlands and Hardee counties community resource director.
The program matches adult mentors with kids from 6 to 18 years who have been referred to the group by principals, guidance counselors or parents. The kids are typically being raised by grandparents or single parents or may have parents who are incarcerated, Vazquez said.
The local chapter has 86 current matches, but 96 children are waiting to be matched because the group lacks volunteers, he said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters can spend an hour a week mentoring the kids or spend four to six hours a month outside school, either going to the games or eating out or seeing a movie.
"A lot start off with the school-based system," Vazquez said.
Some of the kids who need mentors may have problems with their grades. Others may not be exposed to everyday things that we all take for granted. Vazquez said he hears stories where kids have never been to a Walmart or Home Depot, have never stepped into a restaurant and don't know how to read a menu.
The kids also get help in other ways.
At a Christmas Party last year, 186 gifts and 21 $25 gift cards and boxed SweetBay gift boxes were given out.
Saturday was also "Big and Little Night," where the mentors took their "littles" to a basketball game of the Heartland Eagles, a professional team of the American Basketball League.
Vazquez, who has headed the local office for a year-and-a-half, mentors two kids.
"It's a very rewarding place to work," he said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is also getting ready for its annual signature event and fundraiser, Snow Fest, or Winter Fest Outdoor Community Festival, which returns Saturday at the Sebring International Raceway, 113 Midway Drive.
The annual event, presented by the Drs. Vinod and Tarlika Thakkar Foundation, raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast.
Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Along with a giant pile of snow, there will be giant inflatables, carnival games, outdoor bowling lanes, video games, face painting, clowns and food.
Entry is $5. A disc jockey will play along with a live remote broadcast by 105.7 Lite FM.
All proceeds go to the group's one-on-one mentoring programs.
To volunteer as a mentor, call 402-9001, or go to www.bbbssun.org and fill out an application.