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Chris Thompson, a law enforcement and justice administration (LEJA) major from Quincy (IL), displays "Couch Potato," the decorated bowling pin he designed to donate to McDonough County Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
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Tim Hallinan, director of fund development for BB/BS, displays a pin decorated as the Patrick character from "SpongeBob SquarePants" while asking students to vote for the best pin.
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Western Students 'Pin Down' Creative Ideas for Kids' Sake

April 17, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Chris Thompson, a Western Illinois University junior from Quincy (IL), says he didn't mean to give the "Couch Potato" a black eye; it was an accident.

Despite the bit of smudged black paint under its eye, "Couch Potato" -- the bowling pin that Thompson decorated to donate to McDonough County Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BB/BS)-- won Best in Show in a contest recently in WIU Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) Professor Jennifer Allen's Juvenile Justice class.

Thompson, a LEJA major, was one of about 80 students to donate decorated pins, which will be sold at silent auction during BB/BS' Bowl for Kids Sake fundraiser. His comical design depicts a man in a too-tight T-shirt, belly button on display. Other LEJA students painted their pins to resemble a penguin, Batman, a Chicago skyline scene, a Chicago Bears player, a clock and other designs.

This is the third year Allen has offered extra credit to students in each of the three sections of the Juvenile Justice course who design a pin. Tim Hallinan, director of fund development for McDonough County BB/BS, said Allen's students serve as the largest volunteer group to decorate pins, which will be on display around the community starting in May to raise awareness for the fundraiser, held annually in September.

"We are able to match 'Bigs' and 'Littles' only through local sources, rather than from a steady stream from one source, so we really appreciate this project and the work these students have put into it," Hallinan said. "All the proceeds from the fundraiser go toward the mentorship program."

Thompson said he wasn't sure what to create when he first set out to design his pin, which he painted with primer, drew the character on with black marker, and completed with a coat of acrylic.

"I drew about three different things and had to paint over them," he said. "It took me about two or three hours total."

"The students really get into it," Allen said. "My whole goal with this is to get the students to give back somehow. And since this focuses on juvenile justice, giving to a youth organization just seemed like a great way to contribute."

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