BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU'S Barnes and Noble Coffee Shop is a meeting place. I could see a grad student tutoring a pre-med student on immune systems and a solitary guy tapping furiously on his laptop. Wall sockets are supporting plugs for electronic devices as a group of girls enter laughing and grabbing foaming lattes and frappuccinos to slip onto the long padded bench for one row of tables.
The way I knew who was meeting me here was the LSU Big Buddy charcoal gray shirts that entered on six people. The officers of LSU Big Buddy had arrived.
We ordered our choices from the beverage charts, everyone waving their chance to have someone buy them a sweet from the bakery case. The weather was gorgeous and so we headed outside where one of the Big Buddy officers had staked out two tables under an umbrella to keep studious coffee drinkers with their homework from grabbing the tables before we got there.
Big Buddy Baton Rouge had told 9News that this LSU student organization was phenomenal. In just its first year, it re-wrote the book on how to do Big Buddy, creating large group activities for LSU students and their little buddies on the weekends. They also attended larger gatherings sponsored by Big Buddy.
But nothing can beat the resourcefulness of enthusiastic college students.
For instance, Christopher Bloise, LSU Big Buddy's event chairman said, "I'm an event chair so I plan and coordinate all the weekend activities. So like, Alex Box? One of my friends from high school--his father is Coach Paul Mainieri," at this point, the whole table chuckles with the inside connections Chris apparently has. Chris continued, "So I talked to him about it and his dad is a very helpful guy. Like always willing to help out."
Victoria Roberts said her favorite event this year was, "One of the events that we did was the Mardi Gras event."
Roberts said there are enough New Orleans club members that they had a lot of really good Carnival beads for the kids...made games you could play with the trinkets, and laid out tons of arts and crafts materials on a big table. They all made their own "Mardi Gras masks," Roberts said. "The creativity was really coming out in the kids. It was great. I'm a graphic designer so being able to see those kids, the wheels turning in their heads, of the different artistic things that are coming out on the masks, it was just great!"
Amelie Provosty is one of the group's co-founders. "We had a really great Field Day too. What I'm really excited about is our upcoming event called Movies and Mentors..."
The students are plotting production of videos that outline different subject areas in college to let kids sample the kinds of specialized Big Buddies they could get. Showing children what they would see and experience if they chose a Big Buddy in that field lets children better figure out what would be most interesting to them, Provosty said.
LSU Big Buddies continues their over-the-top giving with the after-school tutoring they're planning.
Mairin Guidry is in charge of the signup process as they figure out how they'll do this project. She said,"We're getting a list together of what people's subjects, they're interested in, are...kind of where they specialize so they can better assist students in school. But we should be starting up some in the next month or so."
With this enthusiasm, Buds can't help but grow. Treasurer Richard Guidry said, "We have about 50 right now that are participating in Big Buddy."
Ideally, they want as many LSU students as possible to participate.
Ella Baus was sitting by Amelie Provosty and pointed out why college students and kids are a perfect fit.
"The little buddies definitely look up to college students, because they think we're like cool, or awesome, and they all wanta go to LSU," Ella said. "For example, like the first time Amelie and I, the whole reason we started this club was: we went to Day of the Mentor with Big Buddy, and we had two little girls and we brought them around LSU's campus. And they were like in complete awe!"
Provosty said her friendship with Lil Buddy Kourtney has been hugely gratifying because there was a change in attitude that become very apparent after they spent some time together.
She heard about a scene that took place at Kourtney's home.
"Her mom asked her to do something, and Kourtney said 'Not now Momma, I'm doing my homework!' That just sent, when I heard that, it just (gave me chills). It's a real testament to what we're trying to do here!"
LSU Students, you can find LSU Big Buddies on Facebook, and get ready to have fun!