The Redwood County Big Buddies program continues to meet a need in the area.

According to Mark Trefry, Big Buddies program coordinator, there are currently 46 youth involved who participate in the United Community Action Partnership program in different ways.

Some participate in the one-on-one mentoring program, while others are involved in after school and community activities.

All of that requires funding for Big Buddies to successfully accomplish its mission to serve youth in the community who may fall between the cracks.

While dollars come from a variety of sources, one of the major fundraising events of the year is the annual Toss-a-Thon, which is scheduled to be held April 6 at the National Guard Armory in Redwood Falls. The event is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m., and Trefry said teams will be tossing in shifts. There are three time slots available during the event, including 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. 

Trefry said there are approximately 100 people already signed up to participate, adding, however, there is always room for more.

What makes the event so special for Trefry is that it brings the community together, as people of all ages and walks of life are involved working together for a common cause.

“Our goal is to raise $10,000,” said Trefry, adding now in its third year the Big Buddies Toss-a-Thon has achieved or exceeded that goal each year.

That, he said, is due to the number of local businesses, civic organizations and individual partners who take part in the event.

Trefry mentioned the Special Olympics and the Redwood Valley coaches and athletes all play a huge part in the success of the program.

He added having support from the National Guard Armory and Pizza Ranch in town is also a big boost for Big Buddies.

Those who plan to attend are encouraged to form a team of four to five people (friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors), raise donations for Big Buddies and come to enjoy a free day of bean bag tossing, food and door prizes.

Trefry added an event like this would not be possible without the help of many volunteers, and he expressed his appreciation to all of those who have filled that role. There are opportunities that still exist for those who might want to help this year.

“Bean bag tossing is a popular family activity,” said Trefry, adding it really is something most people can do.

Big Buddies is a free program offered to youth throughout Redwood County, and Trefry said it is one of many programs offered through the United Community Action Partnership in the county.

Hosting events like the annual Toss-a-Thon are inspiring for Trefry, because he sees how community members come together to work for the benefit of others they may not even know.

“This community is so supportive of programs like this,” said Trefry. “We are very fortunate to have amazing people here.”

In addition to being open for additional youth, Trefry said there is always room for additional adults who want to serve as part of the Big Buddies program.

Big Buddies in Redwood County has existed for more than a decade, said Trefry, adding it is having an impact on the future of the community as it serves youth.

After all, those youth will be the future business and civic leaders of the community.

To learn more about Big Buddies and how to get involved in this year’s Toss-a-Thon fundraiser, contact Trefry by calling (507) 530-1202 or sending him an e-mail at mark.trefry@unitedcapmn.org.

For additional information about United Community Action Partnership, visit its Web site at www.unitedcapmn.org.