Over 8,000 new children’s books were donated through the Volunteer Center of Bergen County’s Business Volunteer Council (BVC), Books in a Bag program. Books in a Bag is a BVC initiative that collects new books for low income families and is distributed to early childhood education centers and families served through the Volunteer Center of Bergen County's Bergen Mentors program.
Volunteers from Business Volunteer Council member companies United Water and Hudson City Savings Bank packed 2,760 of the books into drawstring bags in early March, which were then distributed to 460 pre-K and kindergarten students at the Quarles School in Englewood. On March 18th, in honor of Read Across America Day, volunteers from BVC member company TD Bank read the books to an attentive audience of children at the school.
The remaining books will be distributed at an annual book fair on April 25, 2015 for children and families mentored through the Bergen Mentors program. Bergen Mentors is comprised of two support programs, Mentoring Youth, which provides mentors to children who have suffered severe abuse and neglect, and Mentoring Moms, which provides support to mothers struggling to provide for their families. A combined 182 children are served by the two programs, 95% of whom are from low-income families. Buying books at a bookstore or at their school book fair is a luxury that is often not in the family budget for many of the children in Bergen Mentors, so this special book fair will enable the children to have books of their very own to keep and enjoy.
“According to Project Literacy of Bergen County, more than 150,000 people in Bergen County cannot read beyond the 4th grade level,” states Erica West, the Volunteer Center’s Director of Corporate Engagement. “The Business Volunteer Council recognizes that literacy is not just the responsibility of our educational system, but the entire community and is poised to change the statistics. Books in a Bag was created not only to teach our children the value of reading, but to educate parents on the significant impact family reading can have on a child’s development.”
Books were generously donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, United Water, KPMG, Konica Minolta, Jacome America, Scholastic, BD and Books and Greetings bookstore. Books in a Bag was sponsored by Business Volunteer Council member companies Konica Minolta, United Water, BD and Rockland Electric. Sonja Clark of United Water states, “The books donated for the Books in a Bag initiative are an important first step in promoting and encouraging the importance of reading in young learners. United Water has been a key supporter of the Books in a Bag program and as a result is making a lasting contribution to children and families in need throughout Bergen County.”