Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BIG Announcement Revealed

Today was a wonderful, inspiring day.  We were honored and grateful to receive a $2000 grant from the Bettendorf Rotary Club at their annual awards luncheon today.  This is the second time we have been awarded a grant from this organization and we can't wait to put it to use.  It is a privilege to be in the company of such dedicated, hard-working volunteers who strive to make a difference in their community by fundraising and donating the funds back to those in need.

One of the greatest treasures of an event such as this, is listening to all of the grant recipients share about their organization and the work they do.  There are so many wonderful projects going on all around the Quad Cities that we may know very little if anything about.  It is truly amazing.

There is usually one common theme:  serving people who are at-risk and/or living in poverty.  Whether it be educating, feeding the hungry, providing activities to keep kids off the streets, or raising awareness, the root of all the work is helping those in need.

We always leave inspired and ready to forge ahead on the next adventure.

And do we have an adventure.  Today we officially announced our intent to work with ALL of the Title One elementary schools in the Davenport Community School District by implementing a Birthday Book Club for ALL of the students.  Our goal is to provide each school with the books necessary to allow each student the opportunity to choose their very own book to take home on their birthday.  Have a summer birthday?  No problem!  We'll celebrate on your half birthday.

This is a very large undertaking, as there will be 12 Title One schools in the district next year.  This means between now and August, we need to acquire roughly 5000 NEW books appropriate for children in grades K-5.  These books will be delivered to each school at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year so we can get the ball rolling right from the start.

How are we going to make this happen?  We will be writing grants and fundraising like crazy of course, but we will also be turning to the community for help.  Have a child in elementary school at home?  Why not have them select one of their favorite books to donate?

Could you imagine how AWESOME and meaningful this project would be if 5000 local kids each selected a book to donate?  It makes my heart full even thinking about it.  This is a unique opportunity for kids to serve others and lends itself to teaching your kids a valuable life lesson.

Want to be part of something amazing?  Own or work for a business who would like to get involved?We'd love to hear from you!  Together we can ensure over 5000 kids have a new book to enjoy at home.

We can be contacted at

Six months and counting!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Busy, Busy

2016 is off and running!  With our newly attained 501(c)3 status, we are feeling quite ambitious and excited about what this year will bring.  We will be applying for new-to-us grants in hopes of funding some pretty amazing initiatives.

What have we been up to?  In December we donated 587 new books to Monroe for our annual holiday book gift.  All students in grades K-5th received a brand new, age-appropriate book to call their very own.  Next week we will be visiting Washington Elementary in Davenport to surprise their kindergarten students with a book and blanket of their very own to snuggle up with and read.  In late February, we will once again visit Monroe and put on our first Family Literacy Night event of the school year.  We are looking forward to another night of fun with the sweet kids and families.

We would like to thank the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and Bettendorf Rotary Club for honoring our grant requests.  We would also like to thank the Davenport Kiwanis Club for approving our funding request.  This money will all go to fund our current initiatives, as well as making it possible for us to expand our programs.

We would also like to thank all of the individuals, youth organizations, and civic groups for their support.  The blankets, books, and financial gifts are much-appreciated.  It warms our hearts to hear of so many kids helping kids right here in their own community.

The future is looking bright and we look forward to another successful year promoting literacy to children in the Quad Cities.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Crate Library Project Success! Holiday Book Drive Begins!

We would like to thank all of our supporters who made our Crate Library Project a success.  75 kindergarten students at Monroe were able to take their crate filled with 25 books home this week!

After much consideration regarding how the kids would get these heavy little treasures home, we opted to coordinate the donation with parent/teacher conferences.  We are so excited the kiddos now have new books to read at home and we hope to add more to those libraries throughout the year.

That brings us to our next project:  the Holiday Book Drive!  Last year we provided all of the students, K-5th, with a brand new book right before the holiday break.  Our goal is to provide this gift again this year and we would love for you to be a part of this special gift.  We are especially in need of NEW books appropriate for kids in 2nd-5th grade.  Our goal is to collect 600 books.

How can you help?  Order a few extra books through your child's Scholastic book order, donate money (found in the get involved tab), host a new book drive at your church, work, or civic organization, or simply grab a book the next time you're at the store.

As always, we have a drop spot at the Mel Foster office on Spruce Hills Drive in Bettendorf and the DeWitt Public Library.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

From Cover to Cover Opens 2015-2016 School Year At...Monroe, of Course!

Our year is officially off and running!  On September 18th we visited Monroe Elementary in Davenport for our first book and blanket donation of the school year.  74 sweet kindergarten kiddos joined in our story, Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes and left with their special gift.  What a great, respectful, excited little bunch they were!

An article published this week has fueled our passion for continuing our work with From Cover to Cover.  Once again, there is research in the news backing the importance of our mission and our commitment to working with Title One schools in the Quad Cities.  Monroe has been our starting point and we would like to expand these opportunities to other schools in the area.  During the 2015-2016 school year, we will continue to provide extra opportunities for students at Monroe to build their home libraries and participate in enrichment literacy activities all free of cost.

We are in need of a little extra help right now while we wait for our 501(c)3 status to be official.  Can you help us get our next program up and running at Monroe?  You can read more about our goals at our Go Fund Me Page:

Every dollar counts and puts another book in the homes of the children we work with.  We appreciate your help and support.  It truly makes a difference int he lives of so many kids in our community.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summer Initiative: Book Crate Library Book Drive

This week we announced our newly named Snuggle Up and Read Campaign and we are excited to make our first big announcement regarding our expanded literacy project!  We will continue working with our pilot school, Monroe Elementary, during the upcoming school year to promote literacy, empower families, and build home libraries for their students.

"Over 60% of low-income families have no children's books in the home.  Just like their wealthier peers, children need books that they like, ones they choose themselves, at their level, and on topics that interest them." (Source:

Having fewer than 25 books in the home is an indicator of poverty.  We take this statistic, as well as literacy studies pertaining to children living in poverty, very seriously.  It is one of the reasons we started this project and why we have been focused on building home libraries through periodic book donations and free book stores throughout this past school year at Monroe.

So what do we have up our sleeve?  We would like to ensure every kindergarten student at Monroe has 25 books in their home!  How do we plan to do that?  By launching a large book drive over the summer in hopes of acquiring enough books for 90 students to create their own home library of, you guessed it, 25 books.  We hope to achieve this goal by attaining new books, gently used books, or cash donations from our community supporters.  That is a total of 2250 books and we would love to deliver them at the beginning of the school year to kick off our campaign.

We have spent a lot of time speaking with the family liaison and principal at Monroe over the course of the year.  They have shared with us that many of their students do not have consistent housing and books they may have might get left behind.  We have an idea we hope will work when the kids move:  delivering the books in crates.  This will provide a safe place for them to keep their books at home, as well as an easy way to transport them if necessary!

Want to help us with the book drive?  We would appreciate it!  Here are a few suggestions, but please feel free to use your creativity as well:  Vacation Bible School or church drive, garage sale or thrift store scavengers, or a neighborhood drive.  If you have books you would like to donate, they can be dropped off at the Mel Foster location in Bettendorf on Spruce Hills Drive.  We hope to add other locations this summer, so please check back for more information.  If you would like to donate money, you can do so here through our Paypal site, at any First Central State Bank location, or by mailing a check.

Please email us at with any questions, comments, or to notify us of a book drive you have set up.

Book Crate Library

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Snuggle Up and Read Campaign

We are about to wrap up our second school year and could not be more thrilled and encouraged by what we have achieved this year.  When it's all said and done, we will have distributed more than 3000 new and gently used books to local children as well as nearly 400 book and blanket sets at five different schools.  We hosted two Family Literacy Nights at Monroe Elementary and were also blessed to have two authors give of their time to talk to and encourage the children we serve.

Though it feels like we should have time to rest and regroup, this really could not be farther from the truth.  The summer will be filled with working to obtain our 501(c)3 status, writing grants, community awareness events, and planning for the upcoming school year.  Our eyes continue to be opened each and every time we visit a school.  We are learning how important it is to continue getting books into the hands of children and providing programs that empower caregivers as well as the children.

This is why we will be working hard to obtain grants and raise funds to support our Snuggle Up and Read Campaign (formerly known as Family Literacy Nights).  We needed a more encompassing name, as Family Literacy Nights just didn't cover all of the work we did at our pilot school, Monroe Elementary, this year.

The Snuggle Up and Read Campaign will not only include Family Literacy Nights, but book donations and free book stores set up throughout the year.  We hope to provide more opportunities for families to gather, read together, and learn to incorporate reading strategies for all abilities at home.  We will continue working with our pilot school and, if funds allow, expand to a school yet to be determined.

Of course our year will be filled with book and blanket donations as well.  We love meeting all of those sweet kindergarten children throughout the Quad Cities.  Our project continues to evolve and we are excited about where the next year will lead us.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Final Push: Part 2

Wow.  These past two days have been magical.  Students in kindergarten through third grade at Monroe and Jefferson Elementary had the opportunity to listen to author and illustrator Michelle Nelson-Schmidt share an amazing, inspiring message.  Last fall when I read about Michelle and the message she shares with children, there was something in my heart that just knew she needed to come and visit the kids we serve.  What we got was so much more than we could have ever imagined. 

Her job title may be author and illustrator, but she may want to reconsider that title.  This woman is a very gifted motivational speaker for all ages, but the message she shares about listening to your heart voice and following your dreams could not be more amazing for children.  Her message is even more amazing (if that’s possible!) for children who may have challenging home circumstances or need some encouragement.

Over 650 children were blessed to hear these words, among many others, over the past two days:

“Each and every one of you has something to offer this world and only you can give it to us.” 

This message was not preached, but thoughtfully shared with the kids.  Can you imagine the gift this can be to a child?  Someone telling them, “You are special.  You matter.”

Michelle shared the journey to her magical, wonderful life starting at age 4.  A box full of special paper and pencils lead her to a passion for drawing.  In high school, she was introduced to painting and fell in love.  She put herself through an art college working three jobs, using this experience to share with the children this valuable lesson: 

“When you are doing something for yourself; for what you want in your heart; not for anyone else.  Not for your parents, your teachers, or your friends…for you.  Even when all of the hard work makes you tired and cranky, and it will, you know what it won’t do?  That hard work will not make you quit, because it is worth all of that hard work.”

One day on this journey, she listened to the whisper she had as a second grader.  At that time she believed the best job in the whole world would be to write and illustrate picture books, but never shared this with anyone because she was scared.  She was scared of the, “What if’s.”  Through hard work, determination, and the willingness to listen to the whisper in her heart, she overcame her fear and three years of rejection to become a published children’s author.

She shared so many wonderful, encouraging messages with these children about finding their passion, listening to the voice in their heart, and following their dreams.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“When you listen to your heart voice it will lead you to your magical life.  You need to try new things to see what lights you up inside.  Sometimes trying new things is scary.  It’s hard, but you have to try to find out what lights you up inside.”       

“There might be a time in your life when you feel like no one understands you and no one gets you, because you’re staying true to your heart voice.  If you don’t give up, I promise you, your people will find you.  Stay true to yourself.  They will show up for you.”


To conclude her presentation, she gave all of the children an opportunity to make a pinkie promise and boy did they take her up on it!

 “I promise Miss Michelle I’m going to follow my heart.  I’m going to follow my dreams.  With everything I got, no matter what, no matter what if.  And I’ll tell her one day.”

I had the privilege of listening to hundreds of kids make this promise and it brought tears to my eyes:

The opportunity we were blessed with truly cannot be described through words.  We saw twinkles in the eyes of children.  We saw kids stand up a little taller.  We heard children say, “Wow.  That was awesome.  Michelle is awesome.” 

One little girl even said, “Hold on!  I have to tell her one more thing.  She actually listens to me!”  Precious.   

After the visit at Monroe, Michelle had a third grade boy ask her, “Do you really believe it?  I mean, really?”

Michelle:  “Believe what?’

Boy:  “That we can do what we want one day-our dreams?  Do you really believe in us like you say you do?”

(She got down on her knees so she could look him right in the eyes)

Michelle:  “I believe it with all my heart.  And I know it, with all my heart.  I’m not just a grown up saying words.  I mean them.  I will ALWAYS believe in you.  And I love you.  And I always will.  I promise.”

Boy:  He didn’t say anything else.  He just hugged her hard, smiled, and walked away. 

Can you imagine how many other children went home last night and looked at the world a little differently?  Who went to bed thinking, "I am special.  I can have a magical life, too."

We would like to express a HUGE thank you to Michelle for saying, “Yes.” 

For coming to Iowa to speak to hundreds of kids and spreading her message of hope and encouragement.  It made a difference.  Hundreds of our friends received her book, Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster and I have a sneaking suspicion it will hold the title of their favorite book for a long, long time.

Michelle shares her art work

Signing books.  The kids could not wait!

Sharing Dog and Mouse with the kids

Answering some questions

Some of the lives she touched