SAN ANTONIO – After school on a Tuesday afternoon, a circle of young girls is giggling and passing a ball of red yarn to create a friendship web.
The counselor asks them what it takes to be a good friend.
"Share Barbies!" one girl shouts.
The gathering is one of the many programs offered by Girls Inc. SA, a nonprofit on a mission to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold.
Girls Inc. SA, with headquarters at 1209 S. St. Mary's Street, is among the hundreds of nonprofits participating in The Big Give 24-hour mega-fundraiser Tuesday.
"We want (the girls) engaged and learning in an all-girl, pro-girl, safe environment," said Lea Rosenauer, president and CEO.
That includes safety from judgment, limitations and stereotypes.
"One day we were in a school doing a lesson on aerodynamics, making paper airplanes, talking about science, what makes planes fly, when the boys came back in the classroom," Rosenauer recalled. "They are fourth-graders, and they are saying, 'Why are girls doing that?'"
The answer here is, "Why not?"
Whether through big events like science fairs or simply making paper mache paletas, Girls Inc. teaches young ladies ages 6 to 18 that they have the right to be successful and happy.
The group serves nearly 5,000 girls with a small staff of six full-time and three part-time employees. Volunteers are key.
"Here we get to do so many amazing things and instill in girls that it's OK to be who they are and do whatever they want to do in life," said volunteer Ashton Word.
Volunteers range from college students to professionals from many fields, and they serve as role models.
"Girls cannot become what they do not see," Rosenauer said.
The programs are fee-based, but Rosenauer said no girl is denied if her family cannot afford to pay. The organization runs primarily on donations, which is why The Big Give is a big deal.
Girls Inc. SA offers a range of programs including summer camp. For more information: www.girlsincsa.com.
Below is a map of all nonprofit participants in this year's Big Give SA.