Saturday, February 7, 2015

Moving Forward: Our Vision

Fundraising.  In order to fulfill our mission and get books and blankets into the hands of the children we work with, we have to continue to raise awareness about our organization and programs with those in our community and, you guessed it, raise funds.  The success and growth of our programs relies on our ability to attain grants and the support of individuals and businesses in our community.

As we continue to grow and expand our programs, the need for additional financial support also grows.  Perhaps you are wondering what we hope to achieve with these new programs and why we wholeheartedly believe in the importance of providing these opportunities, free of charge, to low income schools in our area.  Today, I'll answer a few of those questions.


Why are these programs important to the growth and development of our community?  


Our Family Literacy Night events will provide opportunities for the students the school simply cannot afford in an effort to help the next generation acquire the literacy skills needed to break the poverty cycle.  Literacy is the key to future success.  A study from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that two-thirds of students who cannot read past the fourth grade level will end up in jail or on welfare.  The children we are working with are the future of our community and by providing them with books, enrichment activities, and empowering their parents, we can make a positive difference in their lives.


What are our goals moving forward?


We will continue to share our message about the importance of reading with kindergarten students at targeted schools in the Quad City area and conclude our presentation with a book and blanket donation for each student.  We hope to expand this program into Clinton County next year by adding another branch to our organization.  


This year we have spent a lot of our time and resources focusing on providing additional literacy opportunities at Monroe Elementary.  With the addition of Family Literacy Nights, book donations, and our upcoming author visit, students at Monroe have been able to grow their home libraries, received extra hands-on literacy instruction outside of school, and had someone (other than their teachers!) talk with them about the importance of reading. We would also like to implement a pledge-based reading program encouraging students to read 300 minutes over a two week period.  At the conclusion of the two-week period, all students who have met their goal will receive a new book of their choice.  


Over time, we hope to strategically expand these programs throughout the Title One schools in the Quad Cities.


How will we fund these programs?


We will continue to apply for grants and seek community support.  We currently have three fundraisers planned in the upcoming months.  For more information, please refer to our involvement page on our website.


We are currently seeking local sponsors to help support programs and improve literacy proficiency among children living in our own community.  Individuals and businesses are invited to choose a level of sponsorship that works for them.  All donated funds will stay within the Quad Cities and are tax deductible.  For more information about this opportunity, please email us at fromcovertocoverproject@gmail.com or click here to open our sponsorship form.
    



     

Thursday, January 29, 2015

And Our Next Donation Will Be At...Buchanan Elementary in Davenport

We are excited to have a school and date set for our next book and blanket donation!  On February 25th, we will travel to Buchanan Elementary in Davenport and spend a little time with their kindergarten class.  All of the kiddos will leave with a book and a blanket and we will have shared the joy of reading and singing along to Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes!

This week, thanks to our grants from the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend and the LincolnWay Foundation, we were able to purchase material for 127 blankets!  A huge thank you to Hancock Fabrics for being so wonderful about having it all cut and for their patience during checkout.  It takes a long time to ring up 254 pieces of material!  It took a van and a Suburban to haul it back to LeClaire, but we have it stored.  Once we have all of the pieces of material matched up, we will be ready for people to make some blankets!

We have an exciting spring ahead with many opportunities for service and support.  As always, thank you for supporting our mission to promote literacy among children at-risk in the Quad Cities and neighboring communities!




Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Wrap Up

December was an incredibly eventful month at From Cover to Cover!  On Monday, December 15th, we dropped off 485 new books to Monroe Elementary in Davenport!  Each student in the school was gifted with an age-appropriate book to take home for the holiday break.  Thank you for helping to make this happen!  The gift of reading is one that keeps on giving!

On December 17th, we  donated 84 book and blanket sets to kindergarten students at Jefferson Elementary in Davenport.  Our signature story, Pete the Cat:  I Love My White Shoes was shared and Pete popped in to see the kids.  They were thrilled!  We were amazed at the participation level of the kids.  They sang their little hearts out!

Handing the bags filled with a book and a blanket to the sweet little kids we serve never gets old.  So many smiling faces and excited sneak peeks always warms our hearts.  We are so thankful we could provide this gift once again, especially right before the holidays!  We cannot thank our volunteers who spend hours making blankets, as well as our financial supporters enough.  The impact grant we received from the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend has been put to good use!

We also brought eight boxes of used books to share with the school.  Typically we let them disperse the the books as they see fit, but this time was a bit different.  Two tables were set up outside of the cafeteria in the main lobby.  We have been blessed to have had hundreds of gently used books donated that are visually appealing, filled with popular characters, and current.  Many barely look touched!  We had some time before and after our donation to set them out on the tables and the kids' enthusiasm became palpable.  They began digging through the boxes and excitedly yelling, "Check this out!" or "Awesome!  How many can I take?!"

So many of us may take this simple gift for granted, but it truly made a difference to these awesome kids.  They were so thrilled to be able to call the books their own and were excited about taking them home to read.  The best part?  They got to make the choice.  Kids are much more likely to read if the book is of interest to them.  We hope our friends at Jefferson spent time curled up reading those books over their holiday break.

We would like to thank you for your support of our organization in 2014.  Over 300 children received book and blanket sets, hundreds of books were donated to build home and classroom libraries, and our first Family Literacy Night was held.  We are excited about what 2015 will bring and have some exciting plans in the works.  It's going to be a great year!

Listening (and singing along!) to our Pete the Cat story

Receiving their book and blanket bags

Giving Pete a high five before they grab their bags


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Family Literacy Night Was a Success!

Words cannot express how awesome our first Family Literacy Night was today.  For one hour you could look around the room and see children and their parents with books wide open reading.  We had four stations at our event:  sight word memory match, a session working on using pictures to make predictions, a free store where the kids got to choose 3 books to take home, and a session modeling how to read with your child, take picture walks, and ask questions.  Our participants were absolutely wonderful to work with and so very grateful for the opportunity to engage in these activities and eat dinner.

I think the best part of the entire event was seeing the interaction between the parents and the children.  Everyone was actively engaged in the activities and it was evident our goal of empowering parents while promoting literacy was achieved.  The families in attendance today left with the best gifts:  strategies to use while reading and books to build their home libraries.  Thanks to our generous donors, we had hundreds of used books to stock our free store.  Not only did we have books for our targeted age (K-2nd grade kids), but we also had adult novels, chapter books for older siblings, and board books for babies and younger siblings.  How wonderful for the children and parents to be able to look through this great selection and choose what they would like to take home.

We cannot thank our generous supporters enough.  The food was all donated.  A big thanks to Hy-Vee on West Locust, friends, and neighbors.  We had a wonderful group of community volunteers to help with the stations.  We were also thrilled to have a group of 20 students from Assumption High School help with preparing and serving the meal, helping with our memory match station, and one lucky boy dress up in our Pete the Cat costume.  We would also like to thank Ruhl and Ruhl for their sponsorship and Mel Foster for their donation of printing.

Tonight was just the beginning.  We could not have asked for things to run more smoothly.  I will leave you with the words Monroe's principal used to sum up the night:  "This is the most powerful event we have had here in a long time.  To walk into this room and see so much reading is awesome."

It really was.  We look forward to providing this opportunity to many others in the years to come.

The store.  Look at all those books!

Modeling how to read with your children station.  Practicing!

Reading together

Checking out their new books

Memory match game

Gathering together to read Pete the Cat and a visit from Pete himself
Part of our group listening to Pete the Cat

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A BIG Gift!

'Tis the season.  The cold weather is upon us, the sales have begun, and the giving spirit is alive and well.  We are gearing up for a very busy season.  We will begin with our Family Literacy Night at Monroe on November 20th.  If you would like to help with this event, we are in need of a few more items for our meal.  You can sign up online and drop them off at Monroe or at our Mel Foster drop spot in Bettendorf.  Our next book and blanket donation will be on December 17th at Jefferson Elementary in Davenport.  Approximately 80 kindergarten students will receive this wonderful gift right before the holidays.  Blanket making is a great service project to do with your family!  As always, we welcome donations of new books and completed blankets for these events.

We will conclude 2014 with a big gift to Monroe and we are looking for your help!  There are approximately 500 students in grades K-5.  We would love to give the gift of a book to every child at Monroe for the holidays.  What better way to send them home on a two week break than with a new book to read?  Looking for a service project for your children?  Encourage them to choose some books for other kids!  The Scholastic orders will be coming home and there are many great titles available for as little as $1.  Are you part of a youth group, church,  or civic organization?  Would you be willing to host a book drive or collect money to fund this gift?  A 50% matching grant is available for all donated funds.  If you would like to donate online, we accept Paypal!

Please email us at fromcovertocoverproject@gmail.com if you would like to participate in this project.  This would be an AMAZING gift to the children at Monroe.  Thank you for your continued support!




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stepping Up

Today I had a meeting with our pilot school, Monroe Elementary, to discuss our Family Literacy Night event coming up in November.  This project for our charity, From Cover to Cover, has become my fifth baby.  I truly cannot tell you how important it is for our communities to realize how much these kids need us.  Not just the Monroe students.  The children at-risk in communities nationwide.  We have found our purpose.  Raising awareness about the striking correlation between literacy and poverty and doing something about it.

Proficient literacy skills are a one-way ticket out of the generational poverty many of these children come from.  It may seem like a daunting task, but it is quite possible to help some of these kids break free.  This is why we have expanded our project to include sponsored literacy nights.  It is why, each day, we spend time working to raise funds, gather volunteers, and make important community connections to spread the word about this huge need that lies right in our own neighborhoods.

What do these children need?  Books.  They need home libraries.  How can you further develop your reading skills if you have nothing to read at home?  Having fewer than 25 printed materials at home is considered living below the poverty level.  This is the biggest area I feel so many of us take for granted.  Our children are abundantly blessed.  Most of us have at least 25 books lying on a table or a book shelf in our living rooms.  Combine that with those found in bedrooms, play rooms, and diaper bags and I am sure most of us are well into the hundreds.  Could you imagine not having a single book for your child to read?  It is a shame, yet a reality for so many.

What do these families need?  They need to be empowered.  If a parent cannot read themselves, that does not mean they cannot help their child to become a better reader.  We are going to work with all of the parents and guardians that come to our events and teach them strategies they can use, regardless of ability, while reading with their children.  We are going to share the importance of reading together each night and walk them through how to ask questions and utilize pictures to further develop the skills of their child.

What do these schools need?  They need volunteers.  More specifically, volunteer readers.  There are many mentoring programs that do not require a significant amount of your time, yet they can make a huge difference in the life of a child.  The more these children are surrounded by people encouraging them to read and reading with them, the more confidence they will build and, in turn, their desire to read will increase.  They also need books.  Quality, engaging, interesting books.  We want kids to look at their classroom libraries and be excited about reading.  Old, worn, outdated books just don't illicit the same amount of excitement as new(er), colorful, eye-catching books.

I challenge all of you to find a local school in your community and help them fulfill one of these needs.  If you live in the QC, I encourage you to join us in our mission.  When I drove away from the school today and passed the lines at the shelters and soup kitchens, it really hit me how important our efforts truly are.  We know we aren't going to save the world, but if we can change the world for a handful of kids, we have made a difference.  You can make a difference, too.  The question is, will you step forward and try?


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Year is Off and Running!

On September 25th, we completed our first donation of the year.  Nearly 80 students at Monroe Elementary in Davenport received the gift of a book and a blanket.  They were also treated to a visit from none other than Pete the Cat!  The smiles on the faces of the kids were priceless.  This gift truly means so much to them and we cannot thank all of our volunteers and supporters enough.

Our next event will be a sponsored literacy night on November 20th.  We will be providing opportunities for children in kindergarten through second grade and their caregiver to engage in literacy activities.  The children will take home a literacy game and a book of their choice.  Additionally, there will be a session for caregivers on strategies to use while reading with their child and an opportunity for them to practice these skills with their child with guidance available.  To conclude the event, a meal will be provided for all of the participants.

To make this event possible, we are looking for community volunteers to serve these children and their caregivers, corporate sponsors to fund the event, and a donated meal.  We CANNOT stress enough how important it is to roll up our sleeves and assist this community.  Being functionally literate is key to breaking the cycle of poverty.  Having reading material available at home is key to being able to practice literacy skills learned at school.  Empowering caregivers, regardless of their reading level, and modeling ways to engage their children while reading is key to further success.

Our community is not immune to poverty.  There are children in all of our schools who live in these conditions and there are so many ways we can help to serve them.  Please consider our request for help with this pilot program.  If you do not live in our area, please consider reaching out in your community to see how you can help.  Your contribution can change the life path of a child.