If you’ve ever mentored a middle school or high school student, you know that a child unable to read is lost – unable to do well in any school subject. Adults unable to read were once children who didn’t learn how.
We’ve all heard the stories about teachers who reach deep down into their pockets to provide their students with much needed school supplies.
Our very first project used funds collected at a company holiday fundraiser to buy Highlights for Children for 90 Columbus, Ohio elementary school children for three years. Soon after, a business owner near Dayton sponsored Spider magazine for two elementary school classrooms, and then a company in Madison, Wisconsin gifted magazines to schools there. Our first recycling project was the collection of favorite magazines organized by a classroom of San Francisco kindergarten students for children in a nearby homeless shelter. Recently, we partnered with a Los Angeles literacy leader to rescue and deliver a donor’s entire comic book collection to an East L.A. school. In rural Alabama, we partner with an education foundation that operates a school supply closet for teachers, shipping them National Geographic and other magazines, and we’ve partnered with College Mentors for Kids in Indiana, Illinois, and New York, schools and youth programs in Jamaica, Uganda, Croatia, Nicaragua, and the central and Kashmir regions of India, a Mississippi newspaper gifting every school child with a magazine, and even airlifted to Inuit schools north of the Arctic Circle to bring magazines for literacy to thousands of students and their families.
We recently received an enormous supply of a half-million beautiful children’s magazines from the National Wildlife Federation that we are getting into hands and homes via outreach to teachers, food bank feeding programs, and United Way, YMCA, and other literacy efforts. As part of this effort, we had the privilege to meet Emily Bailey and Gail Weems, teachers and members of the Gamma Alpha Chapter of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, dedicated to promoting “the highest Ideals of the teaching profession… and to training youth and adults to develop and enhance those skills, abilities, attitudes and ethics that will prepare them to function successfully in a democratic society.”
Emily was collecting magazines for students and also for the Columbus city-wide Kwanzaa Family Storytime to be held at the Ohio History Center, and Gail collected a car load of boxes of magazines for her students and their families.
Emily and Gail invited us to attend their “Educators Got Talent” celebration of teachers, teaching, and especially young people. The stories told reminded us of how very dedicated and precious educators are for the personal investments of time, talent, and treasure they make in the potential of our young people, so they can reach for the stars to meet their full promise.