Books bring a smile to kids in need.
By Wendy Rose Gould
A book might seem a small object, but it can open up the world in many ways. Books can take readers on an imaginative journey, boost their literary level, build vocabulary, teach new concepts and improve comprehension and critical thinking skills.
These benefits have long been recognized by the Kiwanis Club of Corvallis Sunrisers in Oregon, and members have prioritized supporting area literacy initiatives. In May 2022, the club launched one of its newest ventures: a free Book Boxes program. It involves placing book-filled boxes at area organizations serving children and teens, including the Child Welfare Office within the Department of Human Services (DHS).
“While we were providing supplies through another of our community service projects for foster families, we learned about the lobby waiting area of the Child Welfare Office where foster kids often spend long times waiting for their appointments,” says Milt Donelson, co-chair of the club’s Literacy Library Committee. “It seemed like an ideal area to place books — of a wide variety of reading levels — to give them something do while waiting.”
An additional benefit of gifting books to transitory children is that it offers them something permanent that’s theirs and theirs alone during an otherwise unpredictable time. Also, club members feel strongly that helping youth develop a reading relationship with books now will provide them with greater opportunities for success as they grow.
Shortly after the club launched its Book Boxes program, DHS reached out to members to thank them and let them know just how excited the children are about picking out a new book, says Rose Bricker with Benton County’s DHS Child Welfare office.
“The youth we serve have started to anticipate being able to choose a book to take home when they visit our office and will literally run to go check out what’s in the free Book Box.”
Recently, club member Phil Ermer joined creative forces with his two children, Sarah and Sean, to design and handmake a new Book Box. Crafted from wood and labeled with the club’s name, the box presents a professional image while making the books easy to access.
The club uses its funds to replenish the Book Boxes every two weeks. Members estimate they’ll give away approximately 360 books in 2022, and they hope to expand in the months ahead by placing additional Book Boxes at more local youth agencies.