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United Way of Washington County distributes 'Literacy Kits' to area children

June 22, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Ja'seri Chapman, left, helps Citi's Ellen Prete with an ovesized book as Prete reads to children at Head Start Friday. United Way & Citi partnered to provide literacy kits and books in support of Day of Action and Summer Learning Day.
By Ric Dugan / Staff Photographer

Hundreds of children in Washington County will now be able to act out what they learned this summer.

The United Way of Washington County on Friday distributed “Literacy Kits” to more than 530 area children for the agency’s Day of Action and Summer Learning Day.

The kits include a book, a bookmark, and a way to act out the book with an object, which could include a Frisbee, a game, or a friendship bracelet kit.

Officials showed up at Head Start on Elgin Boulevard Friday as a group of children received kits that had the book “More, More, More,” and puppets to act out the characters in the book. They also read two books together as a group, including “Is your Mama a Llama?”

“It’s really fun to read, and I like getting new books,” said Triana Williams, 5, of Hagerstown.

Triana said she was looking forward to “playing with the puppets.”

Ja’seri Chapman of Hagerstown, who also received a kit, said that she was “super excited” about it.

“Reading is super fun,” said Ja’seri, 5. “The puppets in the kits are awesome.”

 There were eight different kits delivered, and four locations with Washington County summer programs each received two of them.

Girls Inc. received 80 kits, The Boys & Girls Club received 200 kits, YMCA received 70 kits and Head Start received 180 kits.

United Way Executive Director Melissa Reabold said the kits encourage the children to read.

“The lit kits that we provide help child-care providers and parents and older siblings to help the younger people to continue to read through the summer,” Reabold said.

Reabold said that the distribution is part of the United Way Summer Learning Loss Initiative, noting that summer learning loss is a “big issue” among children.

“When the kids are on summer vacation they actually are losing what they learned in the school year,” she said. “A way to improve on their retention is for them to read through the summer.”

The kits were assembled by Citi employees throughout the week for the company’s Global Community Day, which was also Friday.

Ellen Prete, assistant vice president of public affairs and communications for Citi, said that the company first got involved with the project last year looking for a way to help out with United Way’s Summer Learning Loss program.

“This year we decided to do that project again because it had a lot of success,” she said. “It helps to prevent summer reading loss, and literacy is an important concern for the Washington County community.”

About 60 Citi employees took part in the program rotating among five different shifts putting together the kits, Prete said.

“Citi likes to encourage education, and we’ve put our dollars behind programs that work with children to expand their reading comprehension,” she said. “This was a perfect fit for Citi, United Way, and the four agencies that we are working with.”

The other books in the kits were “The Soccer Shoe Clue,” “Secret Language of Girls,” “Higher Higher,” “The Gold Coin,” “One Frog Too Many,” “Ginger Pye” and “Because of Winn-Dixie.”

The books were chosen through a suggested reading list provided by Washington County Library and Girls Inc., United Way said in a press release.

The kits were paid for through a $3,000 grant, Reabold said.

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