By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The first snowstorm of the season did not deter participants in area Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) programs Dec. 9 as they gathered at Westborough’s Chapel of the Cross for their holiday party.
Organized by BBBS of Central Massachusetts, the annual event is the group’s biggest of the year. This year marked the first time the Chapel of the Cross hosted the event, drawing the biggest crowd in recent years.
“It’s a better venue [this year] because it’s bigger,” said Nathan Herrera, an adult mentor (Big) to his Little, Andrew Roman. “Last year, it was all in one little area. This year, it’s all broken up so it’s a bit roomier for everybody.”
Previously hosted at Westborough High School, this year’s event spanned several rooms in the Chapel of the Cross. Attendees shopped for presents at a row of tables and then had the opportunity to wrap those presents with volunteers. Volunteers also ran science experiments and craft projects in another room. The party’s attendees then congregated in the church’s main hall for pizza and a caroling performance.
“I like doing the science experiments with boats,” said Jayden Lee, a Little paired for the day with volunteer Garry Weiner. “It’s just fun doing different things and Christmas-related things.”
Lee is one of 50 local children currently on a waitlist for a Big. Director of Community Mentoring Programs Angela Martano said roughly 25 children on the waitlist attended this year’s holiday party.
While Weiner was not his long term match going into the party, Lee said the day was still enjoyable.
“I have no males in my life right now,” he said. “So it’s fun to hang out with a male and get out of bad things that have happened and just think about good things.”
Overall, the event highlighted many of the aspects of BBBS that participants enjoy.
“It gives me someone to look up to,” said Destiny Libby, whose Big Marissa Portera flew in from Chicago for the event. “She’s a very good role model for me. We do fun stuff like this and she also takes me to a lot of fun places.”
The two were matched six years ago and remained so even after Portera moved away from her home in Boston.
Celebrating the holidays during the region’s first notable snowstorm of the year in a new venue, Martano said the organizers were happy to have provided an enjoyable day for the Littles and Bigs of Central Massachusetts.
“It was a tough decision to have this today because of the weather but I’m just grateful that everybody has come out and had fun,” she said.
(Photos and video/Dakota Antelman)