HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Harrisburg nonprofit is looking for more mentors, making a big recruiting push this holiday season. The mentors will work with middle and high school students.

Center for Champions has run a mentorship program for eight years. This year, the executive director said out of the 45 students enrolled, there are 10 who want mentors, but still do not have one.

Nate Baum has been mentoring a middle school student for over a year.

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“The kids are just really fun to be around,” he said. “The student I’m with is a really light-hearted kid, he has the heart of a lion.”

For him, it is a way to pay his own experience forward.

“I myself was impacted at that age by adults that came in and saw that I had potential and encouraged me,” Baum said. “I wanted to offer that to somebody else.”

Center for Champions calls its mentorship program “Rooted.” The students are in middle and high school, primarily from the Allison Hill neighborhood.

“Our goal for mentors is to show up consistently, show love consistently,” Center for Champions executive director Jeff Bruce said.

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Bruce said the goal is to give kids another trusted adult in their life.

“Probably about 65 percent of our families are growing up fatherless as well, so we got single moms that have heavy weight on their shoulders,” he said, adding mentors can help fill some of the roles one parent cannot.

The entire Rooted program meets once a week, but Bruce said mentors and mentees are encouraged to meet more than that.

“Ultimately, we’re just looking for a real friendship,” he said.

Baum said he and his mentee meet about two to three times a month.

“We’ll do everything from going to a hibachi buffet to walking around Bass Pro shops to shooting basketball, really anything that he’s interested in doing,” Baum said.

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After eight years, Bruce said he has seen the impact on the kids.

“Pretty much daily, we had fights, and we haven’t had a fight since we started this program,” he said.

Bruce said it is always easy to get students interested in the mentorship program, but it can be harder to recruit mentors. He said they do a lot of it over the holiday season.

Baum said he hopes being a mentor helps the families by sharing the work of shaping the next generation.

“Anything we can do to lighten the load, we should be willing to do as a community out of care for these kids and all that they’ve gone through,” he said.

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Bruce said mentors do not have to commit right away. He usually brings prospective mentors to the weekly meeting to observe and decide whether it is a good fit. To get involved, visit the Center for Champions website.