United Way volunteers spread out across classrooms in Bryan, Effingham, and Liberty counties on January 26 for the first part of Read United Day and across Chatham County on February 2.
On Read United Day, United Way volunteers and community leaders read and give books to thousands of Pre-K through second- grade students. Throughout this two-day initiative, nearly 1,000 volunteers will read to roughly 1,000 classrooms in 60 schools across our four-county region, giving almost 20,000 new books to local students.
Read United Day is part of Read United, which is a yearround series of programs to improve early language and literacy for all children in United Way’s service area.
“I think it has been working great,” said United Way of Liberty County area director Kristin Hopkins-Graham. “It’s grown over the years. We have some other programs that started like Reading Buddies in Chatham County. We know how important and vital literacy is.”
Read United Day started more than 10 years ago in Liberty County, Hopkins-Graham pointed out, and it has now spread to the other three counties under the United Way of the Coastal Empire.
“Reading is vital to the success of our children and the future of our entire region,” says Brynn Grant, president and CEO of United Way of the Coastal Empire. “Sixty-one percent of low-income families do not have any books in their homes, and through this initiative, we can help change that. We are grateful for the sponsors, donors, and volunteers who made it possible to give nearly every student in pre-K through second grade across our region a book of their very own.”
“Everything starts with literacy,” Hopkins-Graham added. “If someone can’t read, how can they function and be successful in life? We’re investing into our youngest citizens to help increase our workforce of skilled workers and professional workers.”
With the addition of Savannah- Chatham County Public Schools this past year, Read United Day nearly tripled the number of classrooms served and, therefore, the number of volunteers and books needed.
“We are sincerely grateful for the nearly 1,000 volunteers and community leaders who stepped up to read in the classroom this year,” said Cheri Dean, vice president of direct services and impact at United Way of the Coastal Empire. “It has been rewarding to see the joy on the faces of the students as the volunteers read to them and gave them books to take home. This year was a big undertaking, and we are grateful for our many partners who helped make this year’s Read United Day possible.”
This year’s Read United Day sponsors include Vystar Credit Union, Gateway Terminals, WTOC, and many other community partners.
“It takes everybody to make this program happen,” said Hopkins- Graham, who also noted that some schools have a waiting list of guest readers.