Children at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County received a package of gifts Friday designed to both entertain and educate.
The United Way of Washington County delivered about 200 “literacy kits” — bags containing books, projects and treats to make reading more fun and interactive — to the club as part of its worldwide “Day of Action.”
The day was meant to encourage volunteers to work in hands-on programs in their communities, said Jenny Fleming, United Way’s community impact director.
But since it came about the same time this year as national “Summer Learning Day” on June 21, the organization chose to distribute the kits to combat learning loss during the summer.
United Way organized the delivery of nearly 500 books in 333 kits to four local summer programs, she said. Along with the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, Girls Inc. and Head Start will also receive the kits.
“Summer programs are a perfect time for students to learn so they don’t lose skills over the summer,” Fleming said.
Students show little or no academic improvement over the summer at best, according to the National Summer Learning Association. At worst, they can lose one to three months’ worth of learning.
The Boys & Girls Club encourages children to maintain key skills, such as reading comprehension and mathematics, said Jim Deaner, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.
The literacy kits will also foster discussions with program leaders to keep kids interested in reading, Fleming said.
Joslyn Barthley, 8, was busy embellishing her kit with stickers on Friday.
“I like decorating the bags,” she said.
Fleming said she thought it would be a good idea to let the children decorate the kits to make them more personal.
Although Deaner said he wasn’t sure at first if the children would be receptive to the program, the club was full of boys and girls Friday afternoon showing their new books to one another.
He said there are often four or five children at once wanting to read with one of the club’s volunteers.
“It’s a thing of beauty, not only for the high school kids who volunteer, but for the little kids as well,” he said.