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Operation Bigs - Military Mentoring

Operation Bigs - Military Mentoring

Children with a parent in the military, including a deployed parent, face unique challenges that may include separation and loss in addition to the stresses of military life. To help provide the additional support these children need, Big Brothers Big Sisters has established a program called the Military Mentoring Program. It joins children of parents in the military with Bigs who are in the military, retired or civilian. This program has recently been given significant support through a partnership with the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, The Jack in the Box Foundation, as well as Phil's BBQ San Diego. In addition, Big Brothers Big Sisters has established a Military Community Advisory Council to advise our organization on policy and practices related to mentoring children in the military community.

San Diego is home to 800,000 active and retired military personnel and their dependents, the largest population in the US. The San Diego Bay is the principal home of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and all SEALs get their initial training at the Navy SEAL command in Coronado. About one-quarter of the Marine Corps is stationed in San Diego County, with an infantry division at Camp Pendleton, an air wing at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and one of the Corps’ two boot camps off Pacific Highway.

In an effort to serve this population more effectively, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County designed the Operation Bigs program, which provides mentors to children of military families through Big Brothers Big Sisters' School/Site-Based program.

Volunteers meet with children at their schools or a neighborhood community center and provide quality one-to-one friendship time that is so important to a child whose parent is deployed, will deploy or is just returning from a deployment. Operation Bigs runs at all five elementary schools on Camp Pendleton, and at sites in Coronado, Point Loma, Serra Mesa, and MCAS Miramar.

North County/Camp Pendleton Operation Bigs program sites:
  • Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary
  • San Onofre Elementary
  • Santa Margarita Elementary
  • Stuart Mesa Elementary
  • North Terrace Elementary
San Diego Operation Bigs program sites:
  • Silver Strand Elementary, in Coronado
  • Gateway Youth Recreation Center, in Point Loma
  • Serra Mesa Community Center, in Serra Mesa 
  • Milcon Community Center in MCAS Miramar

Bigs and Littles meet for one hour sessions in the community center or the classroom, school library, school computer room, or on the school playground. Bigs and Littles typically meet once a week to read together, play sports or computer games, or simply talk about life and personal issues - just as friends do.

Operation Bigs is the first program of its kind in the nation. California's former First Lady Maria Shriver, as part of her initiative to find support for American military families, made an appearance at Camp Pendleton in September 2004 to help launch the Operation Bigs Program.

Assignment America:
The Marines change both Big Brother and CBS reporter Steve Hartman
and the Man he's Mentored Since the 3rd Grade, 'Little Brother' Lance Corporal Heinrich Soltow.


Read the full story here.

Our Future. And Theirs.

Thanks to the Jack in the Box Foundation, T. Boone and Madeleine Pickens, The Nice Guys, Phil's BBQ, The Cox Kids Foundation, and so many other community supporters, the Operation Bigs program has taken off and continues to grow. But in order to serve our communities large number of military children, additional support is still needed. If you want to support our military through a donation to the Operation Bigs program, please contact Jayne Brennan, Development Coordinator, at JayneB@SDBigs.org or (858) 536-4900 x224.

For a national list of participating military installations, click here.


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