VALDOSTA -- Mayor John Fretti and local officials are collaborating to organize a parade for the football champions at Valdosta State University and Lowndes High School.

"It's certainly appropriate in what happened to our community," Fretti said. "I'm not just a guy who will throw a parade at the drop of a hat, but I'm not sure how many communities have had this happen to them."

Fretti said he has already contacted the Lowndes County school board and VSU President Ronald Zaccari to offer the city's assistance in hosting a parade.

Zaccari and the school board agreed to a parade that will most likely be limited to the players, cheerleaders, bands and boosters as participants.

The date and route for the parade are tentative, but Fretti said the best time would be in mid-January after students return to class and the Lowndes High band returns from its inaugural parade in Washington, D.C. Fretti added that he would like the parade to include a common area where a short ceremony can be held with the trophies present.

"We've come a long way prior to the final football game. When they won, we wanted the City of Valdosta to be a small part of this," Fretti said.

VALDOSTA -- The oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States raised some much-needed money selling other people's unwanted items.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Georgia Inc. raised more than $900 during The Big Yard Sale on Saturday. These funds will benefit the organization's community-based and school-based mentoring programs.

Betsy Burch, the organization's Buddies in Schools Program manager, said, "We sold all kinds of stuff. We had more clothes than we knew what to do with. We were busy all day long, and it was wonderful."

Big Brothers Big Sisters officials never dreamed they would surpass the $500 mark, a goal they sort of set for themselves. Burch said the fact that they nearly doubled their goal was due to the generosity of area residents.

"We had people out looking for our yard sale Saturday," she said. "That was exciting. We could not have done any of this without them. Everything worked out great. We're just ecstatic."

Burch plans to make The Big Yard Sale an annual fund-raiser for the organization.

Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Georgia Inc.'s community-based program, "Big" volunteers provide "Littles" with one-on-one time and attention in their communities, typically two to four times a month. During these unstructured outings, they cultivate relationships that provide children with skills to manage every day challenges and experience the joy of helping children discover a world of possibilities and opportunities.

With the Buddies in Schools, "Big" volunteers provide "Littles" with one-on-one time and attention in their schools, typically once a week during the academic year. Teachers identify children who can benefit most from interaction with a caring adult.

For information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, please call (229) 253-8851.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call (229) 244-3400, ext. 255.

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