Editor’s Note: This month the Herald is featuring a series of stories on the Holiday wish lists of Mid-Columbia nonprofits and how you can help. Charities can email firstname.lastname@example.org with attention to Holiday Wish List. Include name, contact information and a few specific needs.
The bookshelves at the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia are looking bare.
Rowena Chess Elementary School in Pasco recently requested 800 books -- 400 in English and 400 in English and Spanish -- for a family reading event. Then there’s the typical holiday rush that comes every year.
“Christmastime is a big time because teachers want to give kids books as gifts,” said Amy Ward, the foundation’s executive director. “They want (the kids) reading books during the break, not playing video games.”
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The foundation, in its 16th year, operates various programs throughout the Mid-Columbia. Its READY! for Kindergarten program, which is run in coordination with school districts, aims to help parents get their children ready for school through classes, educational toys and books.
Reading tutors work with below grade-level readers in seven Kennewick elementary schools as part of Team Read, another reading foundation program. And new parents receive a book for their newborn child through the group’s Our Babies Can’t Wait program.
But the foundation’s original goal was and continues to be getting books to children in the community.
About two-thirds of the 30,000 books the foundation has given out this year have gone to teachers, schools and others who have requested them. Thousands more were given to new Mid-Columbia teachers so they could establish a classroom library or summer reading programs.
Contracts and grants for some of the foundation’s programs cover its $600,000 annual budget, but Ward said about 40 percent of its efforts are covered by donations, small grants, fundraisers and book drives.
The foundation particularly needs bilingual books, Ward said.
Team Read is also in need of volunteers to read with children for 30 minutes twice a week in several Kennewick schools. About 100 students are on a waiting list.
The foundation also is appreciative of any contribution, from cash donations to gifts of new or gently used books.
For more information or arrange a book drop-off, contact the foundation at 509-222-7323 or go to its website at www.readingfoundation.org/mid-columbia.
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