It is in your hands to make a difference

Monday, November 16, 2015

Make a Difference

Children at Gegan Elementary School held up signs to thank United Way for the literacy kits.

Contributor: Susan Perri, Marketing and Communications Assistant at United Way Fox Cities

“We can change the world and make it a better place.
It is in your hands to make a difference.”
- Nelson Mandela

On Make a Difference Day, the largest national day of community service, over 80 volunteers spent their morning with United Way Fox Cities to help promote literacy. In less than two hours, the volunteers packed 1,000 kits with new Scholastic books, "Eat Healthy with MyPlate" activity books, crayons and information for caregivers regarding the importance of reading to their children. The project was possible thanks to a grant provided by Depend, a brand of Kimberly-Clark. Depend and United Way are partnering together to promote healthy, active, and independent living throughout an individual's life, with a focus on volunteering.

Families with children, older adults, young adults and teen groups all pitched in to pack the literacy kits. (View photos of the packing event.) One of the volunteers that brought her son to the event said, "He saw books he loved and it gave him a good feeling to know he was doing something to help other kids improve their lives. This was awesome on so many levels."

This week, the literacy kits were distributed throughout the Fox Cities. 800 students in the Menasha Joint School District received kits. During a school assembly to announce the arrival of the literacy kits, the kids were reminded, "Reading makes you smart," and were encouraged to find a reading partner at home, even if it is a pet. (View photos of the school assembly.)

50 literacy kits will be given to families in the Even Start Family Literacy program, where parents gain literacy skills and children ages birth to five participate in literacy activities. Even Start families will receive their kits after they complete a field trip to the public library.

150 literacy kits will benefit children in the YMCA of the Fox Cities 4-year-old kindergarten programs during Family Literacy Night. Danielle Englebert, Appleton District Executive of the Appleton YMCA said, "The Appleton YMCA 4K program is grateful to have these wonderful resources for their 4K Family Literacy Night. The teachers have planned their activities to show parents the different ways to use the materials to promote literacy at home."

We are extremely grateful for the wonderful response from the community in meeting these volunteer needs and to our partners including Depend, United Way and the Volunteer Center of East Central WI. Because of the wonderful efforts of the volunteers, families across our community will have new books to read and enjoy together!