Kemptville’s Big Brothers Big Sisters main fundraising event may be in trouble if they don’t attract more sponsors. In its seventh year in Kemptville, RibFest is a fun family event that raises money for all the programs that Big Brothers Big Sisters Leeds Grenville offers. “All profits go to our mentoring programs, after-school and in-school programs, and monthly activities,” says Leanne Trimble, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

This year the organization has only attracted about $6,500 in sponsorship, which isn’t even enough to cover the cost of the event. “Our goal for sponsorship is $16,000,” Leanne says. If the fundraiser doesn’t make enough money this year, it is likely that Big Brothers Big Sisters Leeds and Grenville will pull the plug on the Kemptville RibFest, choosing to allocate resources to the version of the fundraiser in Smiths Falls.

While Leanne says she has had a lot of support from the local business community, it is not enough. “It’s so hard,” she says. “We have lots of small sponsors.” The problem is they haven’t been able to attract the big corporate sponsors that are necessary for an event like RibFest. “We don’t have the big business in Kemptville that they do in Smiths Falls.”

While Leanne assures that the elimination of a Kemptville RibFest would not directly affect the ability for the organization to provide their programs in the area, she says it would be a shame to lose something that so many people in the community enjoy. “At the end of the day, it’s nice to have something local,” Leanne says. “The community benefits from having an event here.”

Thirteen-year-old Aaliyah Fleury agrees. She and her family have been going to RibFest for many years and it is something that she always looks forward to. “I like it because of the food,” Aaliyah says smiling. “There is something to do for all ages and it’s a great family activity. It would disappoint a lot of people if it didn’t come anymore.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters plays a huge role in the lives of children in Leeds and Grenville. Not only do they match kids up with mentors, they also offer many in-school and after-school programs. They often work directly with the schools to identify kids in need and they make sure no child is excluded from things like hot lunches and school trips. They also make sure all the kids in the school have proper footwear and clothing for winter. Every month they take over 40 kids on a trip to places like the Museum of Nature and zip-lining, completely free of charge.

Leanne says they are always looking for volunteers and people to act as mentors, or “Bigs”, for the kids. There is already a long waiting list and kids are added to it all the time. There is an interview process and background check so that they can ensure matches last for a long time. “One woman I know has been in contact with her Big for 23 years,” Leanne says. “She is all grown up now and has a child of her own.”
This year’s RibFest will run from Friday, June 16 to Sunday, June 18 at the North Grenville Municipal Centre. If you’d like to volunteer or be a sponsor for RibFest and help keep this community tradition alive, contact Leanne at [email protected] or call 613-258-4440.

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