"From a child's first foray into the depths of a story to an adult's escape into a world of words, reading plays an integral role in our lives." -- President Barack Obama
Bergen Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Council (BVC) kicked off its annual Books in a Bag book drive in early January. BVC member businesses collected thousands of new books for children of low income families to promote the importance of family literacy.
Children raised in homes that read, grow up to be better readers and do better in school than children raised in homes where literacy is not a priority. For low-income preschoolers, increasing early literacy and math skills is vital to closing the achievement gap between them and their more advantaged peers.
In an effort to raise awareness about childhood literacy, Business Volunteer Council volunteers, Suez Water North Jersey, Atlantic Stewardship Bank, and BD put on their red and white hats and read their favorite stories to 470 pre-school and kindergarten students at the Quarles School in Englewood. The celebration Read Across America Day, took place on March 2, 2016, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. Nearly 500 backpacks filled with 1500 new books were donated by the BVC for all the children to take home and start reading that day!
The Business Volunteer Council’s Books in a Bag is still collecting books for the Bergen Volunteer Center’s annual Big Book Give Away on Saturday, April 23, 2016, a book fair for children and families mentored through the Bergen Mentors program and other human service agencies. 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 enjoy the thrill of attending a book fair and choosing trending titles without worrying about cost.
“Poverty should never prevent any child from the chance to learn and thrive.” states Erica West, the Volunteer Center’s Director of Corporate Engagement. “As members of the community, Business Volunteer Council members are poised to help families instill the value of reading in their children and educate parents on the significant impact family reading can have on a child’s development.”
All books were generously donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Suez, Konica Minolta, Sharp Electronics, Scholastic, BD, Atlantic Stewardship Bank and Books and Greetings bookstore. Books in a Bag was sponsored by Business Volunteer Council member companies Konica Minolta, Sharp Electronics, Suez, BD, Community Bank of New Jersey, Atlantic Stewardship Bank and Branding Ovation.