Big Animals

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the Big Animals?

Big Animals for Little Kids is an all-volunteer organization in San Diego. We have 25-30 regular volunteers (12 or more events per year) and 50-100 casual volunteers (one or more events annually), as well as scores of teens who participate in our Teen Program. The Big Animals have been active in San Diego since July 2000.

What is our mission?

Big Animals for Little Kids has a unique dual mission:

Children - Big Animal volunteers bring joy and laughter to children facing health, emotional or socioeconomic challenges. More than 50 annual hospital and family shelter visits and appearances at charitable events throughout San Diego County bring happiness to children and emotional support to their families.

Teenagers - Teens are attracted to wearing Big Animal costumes to entertain younger children because it is fun. When they do so, they learn exceptional life skills, self-responcibility, the joy of giving, and the satisfaction of helping someone less fortunate than themselves.

Who benefits from our work?

Our 50 yearly events bring joy to approximately 6,000 children annually. Additionally, we offer community service certificates for junior & senior high school students that choose to enrich their lives and experience the joy of giving by entertaining the younger ones.

Our Teen Program has hundreds of volunteers from San Pasqual Academy and the AWARE Program who have participated actively. It is especially poignant since these kids lives often have not involved a lot of love or trust. By entertaining the younger children, they are learning the awesome power of giving of oneself while enhancing their self-esteem. This is perhaps the most important educational lesson of all!

What do we do?

During an event, we and our teenage helpers dress in Big Animal costumes to visit the little ones. We paint their faces, play games, and take pictures of them with Big Animals to create souvenir “photo buttons” for them. The little ones see that someone cares about them, healing faster and recovering more fully. You may have seen Robin Williams demonstrate this effect in the movie Patch Adams. Most of all, we leave each child with a treasured memory and the assurance that there are people in the world that love them.

Our Annual Toy Drive collects thousands of toys that we distribute to homeless and desperately poor youngsters. We accept donations all year long. Each holiday season collection boxes are set up all over san diego and we also solicit corporate donations of toys.

What is the dollar value of Big Animals Volunteer Time?

Big Animal volunteers donated 5700 hours in 2011, which reflects a dollar value of volunteer time of $137,770, based on standard valuations of volunteer time.


What are our expenses?

Since 2000, our $15,000 annual budget provided costume purchases, equipment purchases, consumable purchases and maintenance and repair. Volunteers move our gear to and from events in their personal vehicles, some events requiring two or three vehicles.

We are able to do over 50 events per year with only a $15,000 budget because we have no paid staff and we have stored our equipment and operated our administrative and maintenance functions out of a donated space, which allowed us to direct all of our funding, after insurance, directly to producing events for children and teens.

You can make a difference by adopting a Big Animal!

Michele Campbell Memorial Fund

Big Animals for Little Kids | 4629 Cass Street #342 | San Diego, California 92109 | (619) 723-3142
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. EIN #26-3490647