By KALEY CONNER
Sergio and Janell Carr sat on the couch with 7-year-old Dayton Legleiter nestled comfortably between them.
All three were wielding X-Box controllers, frantically pushing buttons as they struggled for a victory playing "Fuzion Frenzy."
"He gives me a run for my money, when I let him," Sergio Carr said with a laugh, referring to his "little brother" Dayton, who goes to school in Victoria.
The Carrs became acquainted with Dayton in October, when they signed up to be matched with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County's faith-based program.
Since then, the friends have been meeting almost every Friday, when they spend a few hours fishing, eating, playing or just hangin' out.
"I wish I could hang out here every day," Dayton said.
"I did not pay him to say that," Sergio Carr joked with a laugh.
He is a senior at Fort Hays State University, where he is studying psychology. His wife is finishing an education degree and will graduate after student teaching this fall.
They make their home at the university's Wooster Place apartment complex, which Janell also manages. And that's where the trio could be found on this comfortable afternoon.
"One of his favorite things to do is ..." Sergio Carr started to explain.
"Xbox," Dayton chimed in.
As a faith-based match, the Carrs have the opportunity to share their Christian values with Dayton -- they take him to church occasionally, and prepare Bible studies to review.
"We try to learn about the seven days, the Ten Commandments," Sergio Carr said. "He's got it down pretty good."
The faith-based program was established in 2006 to provide another option for locals wanting to make a difference in a child's life. The program is similar to the community-based initiative, but strives to incorporate matters of spirituality.
"It gives them the opportunity to participate in church activities with their little, to go to church, to do different religious activities," said Mentoring Coordinator Lexi Gardner. "But what it really does is it opens the door at the beginning of the match, that the big knows it's OK if the little comes to them with questions about spirituality."
Both sides of the match, as well as the little's guardian, decide if they want to be part of this program. The organization also tries to accommodate special requests, such as making a pair in the same church or denomination.
There are more than 70 matches made through the program, and there are always children on a waiting list, Gardner said.
The program got its start through cooperation between Holy Family Elementary and Thomas More Prep-Marian High School. The older students have the opportunity to be school-based mentors for the children.
As with any match, volunteers must complete a rigorous background check and interview process, so BBBS can ensure children are being placed in a safe environment.
To volunteer, residents need to be 16 and have a valid driver's license. The program has participants of all ages, Gardner said, noting several are in high school and others are retired professionals.
In making a match, several criteria, such as interests, are taken into consideration.
And once the match is made, it's easy to notice a difference in the children, Gardner said, noting many of the littles become more self-confident.
"One thing that we see is children becoming more comfortable with who they are," she said. "We just notice them becoming more comfortable with adults in different situations."
Volunteers can sign up for a one-on-one match, or for a family match. For Sergio and Janell, who have been married only a few years, this was the best option.
The couple, who attend the Church of Christ, 1100 Centennial Boulevard, also knew they wanted the opportunity to share their faith with a child.
"I thought that would be good because we're really involved in our church," Janell Carr said.
"I just thought it would be something good, something positive in a child's life," her husband agreed. "I enjoy it very much. He's a good kid."
The Carrs intend to maintain the friendship for the remainder of their time in Hays -- they're considering a move to Wichita when both are finished with school.
As for Dayton, he seems to have no doubt his match was one made in heaven.
"(I give them) a lot of thumbs up," he said.