Posted Date: 09/16/2021
KanPak Golden State Foods Foundation (GSFF) recently teamed up with the USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative to increase access to books for USD 470 PreK children.
As part of KanPak’s larger effort to provide backpacks and school supplies to elementary children across the county (a donation valued at more than $33,000), GSFF donated 40 backpacks to help establish the PreK “Book Backpack” program. The USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative filled the backpacks with dozens of developmentally appropriate and bilingual books. Through this program, families with a child in preschool can check out Book Backpacks from Head Start Family Service advocates.
“We know that access to just 20 age-appropriate books in a home is an important element in developing early language and literacy skills and is a key predictor of academic achievement and health outcomes later in life,” states Lindsay Wilke, Early Literacy Coordinator. “However, Head Start Family Service Advocates often hear that families have very little access to books in their homes. Businesses and community organizations can play a vital role in helping to close this gap for children and families. We were excited for KanPak to step up and leverage their resources in unique ways.”
KanPak was also the first organization to volunteer to sponsor a Little Free Library in the Ark City Community. Little Free Libraries are structures in the community where citizens can go for free books; they can also leave gently used books for others to take and enjoy. Pershing Park was chosen as the location for the KanPak Little Free Library. KanPak helped to fund the library structure and is committed to keeping it regularly stocked with books. A second Little Free Library has been installed at Wilson Park, and the Ark City Public Library is maintaining this location. A network of Little Free Libraries across the country can be found at www.littlefreelibrary.org.
“When Lindsay reached out to us, we were so excited to partner with the USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative. Our mission is to improve the quality of lives of children and families in need in the communities where our associates live and work. After meeting with her, we realized she had the same mission,” said Connie Shire, KanPak Kansas GSFF Chair. “We held a Literacy Kit Drive in June and the books we collected from our associates and the community will be stocked in the Free Little Library. Getting books into the hands of children at a young age and reading to them is very important. We can’t wait to add more books!”
To learn more about the USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative and free resources available for families visit www.usd470.com/earlyliteracy. The USD 470 Early Literacy Initiative is funded by the Kansas Health Foundation to increase literacy in children ages birth through third grade within the community. The Kansas Health Foundation is a philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans. For more information about the Kansas Health Foundation, visit www.kansashealth.org.