United Way Reading Backpacks program is back

By KARI BOISVERT, United Way Executive Director

Last year the Summer Reading Backpacks Program was a great success, and a lot of children in the valley received books to read over the summer. Generous donors gave money, books, backpacks, bags and time. We are hoping we will see the same generosity this year — in fact, we are sure we will.

This year we will focus on students in kindergarten through second grade, but we will accept books for older students for future years. The books have to be new or slightly used.

As with last year, we are also looking for new or slightly used backpacks, or book bags.

Why are we only focusing on these grades this year? One of United Way’s goals is to better our community through education. About 67 percent of children nationwide are not proficient readers by the end of third grade.

According to Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, “This has significant and long-term consequences, not only for each of those children, but for their communities, and for the nation as a whole.”

We received a $5,000 grant from Edison International, which we will put toward purchasing one book from the California Reading List for each of the 392 students in the Sierra Sands Unified School District and Trona Joint Unified School District who will be starting third grade in the fall.

The total number of K-2 students in these two school districts is 1,114 so we are hoping for a lot of help to carry this out, and we need the help fast. SSUSD ends the school year May 30 and TJUSD ends on June 6.

We would like to be able to distribute the backpacks the last week of school, which means we need to have the backpacks packed the week before.

Do you have books, backpacks, bags, money,and/or time and want to know how you can get that to us? Call us at 760-375-1920 or e-mail kari@unitedwayiwv.org, and we will let you know.

Dropboxes will be placed at United Way’s office at 206 Balsam St. and both Albertson’s locations. Kari and Tambre are excited to make this year as great if not a greater success than last year, and with your help we can do it.

We will keep the media updated on locations and dates for collection and packing event. Thank you in advance for your help.

Story First Published: 2013-05-08