A gift for reading

Grace Lutheran Church members visited Your Inc. Head Start to dispense free books to the program’s 3- and 4-year-olds Thursday.

Every child at the Maple Drive center received a copy of “The Little Engine That Could.”

“It’s just a wonderful book,” Marjorie Wonderlich, child and family services manager, said. “We’re going to go from classroom to classroom and give them out to every child.”

A total of 130 books were given out.

“This is wonderful, because it helps meet all of our goals for school readiness for the children. And they get to take them home, so the parents will then be involved, which is the family engagement part we’re working on, so all the children are school ready.”

Reading is important at Head Start, according to Wonderlich.

“Literacy is a huge part of our Head Start program, and vocabulary and all of the different word recognition, looking at books. All of it is a big part.”

Grace Lutheran members Connie Gustafson and Marsha Storbakken also visited Riverside Early Learning Center Thursday to give books to its students.

The effort is part of a stewardship campaign done by the church’s Sunday school.

“We do a campaign every year, and this year we decided to have the kids do something locally, so the kids can see how they can help other kids. It’s kids helping kids,” Gustafson said. “It’s a great way for them to see that they can make a difference in other kids’ lives.”

Storbakken described the effort as a rewarding one.

“It feels like you’re giving them hope for the future,” she said. “Reading is vital for the kids’ success and their life, and a lot of the children we’re giving them to don’t have a lot. And so it feels wonderful.”

The gift to the children is the result of another’s act of kindness, Gustafson said.

“This was made possible because we had a donor match the Sunday school’s gift two-to-one, an anonymous donor,” she said. “That was a wonderful gift.”

The books were also a gift for the Head Start program itself.

“One of the things that they are doing, a big service to us, beside providing the books for the children, is they are helping us to meet our 25 percent of our grant local in-kind match, which is money that we have to have to keep in operation,” Wonderlich said. “This is going to be a big part of meeting that. It’s like $7 per 130 children. It’s going to be a huge in-kind match for us, which is wonderful.”