ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Fruit and vegetables are good for children. Mentors are, too. So, with approximately 100 children on the waiting list, Big Brothers Big Sisters launched a “punny” campaign pairing fruits and vegetables with its need for more volunteers.

“The number of children enrolled in our program has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels,” said Executive Director Kay Crites, “but the volunteers haven’t. While we are seeing a more regular flow of volunteers, it’s not enough to keep up with the number of children who could use a positive voice and encouraging mentor in their lives.”

As part of the campaign, Odessans and Midlanders will see three different die-cut yard signs resembling a peach, an orange and an avocado, and bearing the messages: Make a Child’s Life Peachy, Mentor Today; Orange You Ready to Make a Difference, and Help a Child Avo Good Life Be a Mentor. Those who find and take selfies with all three signs, post to social media with the hashtag #mentorthebasin and who like the organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/bbbspermianbasin or follow Big Brothers Big Sisters on Instagram at Instagram.com/bbbspermianbasin will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. The contest ends Sept. 15, 2022.

In support of the yard signs, billboards with the message Peas Become a Mentor and Help a Child Succeed and targeted social media posts with assorted fruit and vegetable puns will be used to bring attention to the agency’s need for volunteers.

“Our campaign in 2021 with the pickle-themed puns was so successful, we thought we’d stay in the same lighthearted vein this year to see if we could remind residents of the need,” Crites said.

“We especially need men, as they volunteer less often than women for this community service, and these boys often face challenges that really need a man’s voice – such as the boy who asked his mother, ‘who’s going to teach me to shave?’ While that may seem trivial, it’s not to a boy on the verge of becoming a young man.’

“Many of our children are also facing challenges they have no control over, such as losing a parent to divorce, death or incarceration. An encouraging friend can make a real difference in the life of a Little Brother or Little Sister, which also makes a difference in the future of our community. Of course, not every child in our program struggles like this, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t also use a mentor. Who can’t use another supporter and cheerleader in their lives?” Crites asked.

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides mentors for children in Midland and Ector counties and strives to ensure that all children achieve their full potential by matching them with a caring mentor. Mentors can be as young as 15, if they’re also a Sophomore, with no upper age limit. The organization serves children ages 6 through 21 or college graduation. For more information about enrolling a child or volunteering as a mentor, call (432) 687-0195 or go to www.bbbspermianbasin.org/volunteer.