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Airmen support local community, children

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Airmen came together for the 19th Annual Bowl for Kids' Sake at the bowling center Feb. 17 with hopes of making a difference in the lives of children throughout the Fairbanks community.

More than 100 bowlers and 23 volunteers took part in the day-long bowl-a-thon hosted by Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Greater Fairbanks area.

"I was really thrilled with the turnout here today," said Taber Rahbaum, BBBS executive director. "Eielson has always been a great supporter of our program."

Airmen raised more than $2,000 for BBBS and all money raised goes directly towards matching children with carefully screened BBBS volunteers.

"The goal of our program is to help kids stay on track and reach their highest potential," Mrs. Rehbaum said. "A lot of children don't get the attention they need and we help provide them with someone they can look up to."

Staff Sgt. Mike Malone, 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and his wife Marguerite had always wanted to make a difference in the life of a child and after a careful screening, they were matched up with a "Little" named "Z."

"This is a phenomenal program and it is truly beneficial to these children," said Big Sister Mrs. Malone. "As much as the children our helped, we get as much, if not more out of it."

Many Big Brothers and Big Sisters form a close bond with the children they meet, and for the Malones, that could not be more true.

"When we picked up Z today, he said he couldn't wait to see us this week," Mrs. Malone said. "It's the little things that make this program so rewarding."

Z, like other children in the BBBS program, enjoys the program because of the positive interaction and diversity he receives from his Big Brother and Big Sister.

"I like going places with them and spending time with them," Z said. "They [the Malones] are nice and treat me really well."

Helping children like Z is one way military members can leave a lasting impact on a community and the people who live here, said Mrs. Rehbaum.

"Big Brothers, Big Sisters volunteers help give children a sense of the future," she said. "Just spending a few hours a week with a "Little," shows them they are important and special. They become someone else's hero."