By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- It's a first, but organizers hope it will become an annual pre-Christmas event that will draw a lot of participation and support from surrounding communities.
The event is the first annual Crystal Ball put on by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass County.
It will take place on Dec. 5, at Zazou, located at 219 N. Fourth St., in Niles, just a couple of hectic weeks before christmas
The worldwide mentoring organization has been represented locally since 1965, and works to create and nurture relationships between adults and children.
The service is based on volunteers spending some of their time with children.
She hopes to have an attendance of at least 200 people.
The event will feature a cocktail hour, an auction gala and music, as well as food from Dragonfly Catering, Milburn said.
She said among the prizes to be auctioned off are are furniture, household items, tools, theme baskets, collectible items, sports items, floral bouquets and holiday gift ideas.
The event, which is geared for adults, however, is only one of many fundraisers the organization puts on every year.
Milburn said 2003 has so far been a good year for the organization.
She said the organization successfully pulled off the second annual Slime Time celebration this summer in collaboration with Martin's Supermarket in Niles.
The fund-raiser gave people the opportunity pay money to slide down a slide into a $1,000 pool of green slime at the Martin's Supermarket parking lot.
The organization also puts on Bowl for Kids Sake, which brought the agency over $11,000 this year, Milburn said.
In addition, the organization was among those who received funds raised through the Human Race put on by the Southwestern Michigan Volunteer Center this summer, Milburn said.
And, the organization also received $13,800 from United Way of Greater Niles.
Milburn said the organization's focus has always been on children.
Currently there are three program mentoring options available, she said.
One option involves a volunteer picking a child up at the child's home to spend time together, she said.
Milburn said volunteers can also use their lunch to spend time with children, or spend time with them when they are done with school.
All volunteers go through screening programs and staff do follow-up supervision to make sure everything runs smoothly, Milburn said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters serves hundreds of thousands of children in 5,000 communities across the country, and the organization is continually growing.
The goal is to provide Big Sister Big Brothers to $400,000 by 2004, which is the year of the organizations 100th anniversary, and to one million children by 2010.
If Crystal Ball tickets are purchased before Nov. 27, they cost $30 for a single and $60 for a couple.
Tickets will also available at the door to a slightly higher price.
For more information about the Crystal Ball, call 269-684-1100.