Milestone for books for Collier kids

by Lois Bolin
Old Naples Historian

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Four year ago, in my December 2013 Life in Naples column, I wrote, “…their vision is clear: address one of the most important factors affecting literacy — access to books. Authentic leadership permeates each director from their leader to the linchpin alchemists who take advantage of First Book’s tremendous buying power to amass high quality yet deeply discounted books. Added to this is a magical amalgamation of the development team and the diverse capabilities of an all-volunteer board, which stand ready to do whatever needs to be done to get new books into the hands of needy children. “

Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.

Since then, not much has changed except the nonprofit name and a magnificent milestone – 1,000,000 books that are given to children in pre-K, kindergarten, and first and second grade classrooms in Title 1 schools and Head Start programs across Collier County. Founded in2005, Books for Collier Kids (BCK formerly First Book-Collier County) has had a single mission: to provide new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy—access to books.

For 13 years, they have worked tirelessly to distribute new books each month for these children. These students take home these newly found treasures to read again and again and share with their families. Often these books are the only books in their homes – if you don’t count a telephone book.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

BCK’s distribution chair, a Ph.D. educator, selects the books to support the curriculum in the children’s classrooms. She works with the teachers to ensure that all of the books selected are age appropriate, worthwhile and appealing to children. In addition to giving books to needy children in Collier County Public Schools, BCK partners with approximately 20 other nonprofits in Collier County that serve disadvantaged young children, including the Boys and Girls Club, Christ Child Society of Naples, ELLM, Friends of Foster Children, Fun Time, Grace Place, Guadalupe Center, Habitat for Humanity, Healthcare Network, Immokalee Housing, Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, The Shelter for Abused Women and Children, the YMCA and Youth Haven.

Children’s reading and thinking are the rock-bottom base upon which this country will rise.

The necessity for proficient reading and comprehension skills goes beyond the classroom. Illiteracy has a profound impact on employability, poverty, crime, living conditions, health and educational attainment. Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills upon entering school are 3-4 times more likely to drop out in later years and by 4th grade have a 78 percent chance of not catching up.

According to United Way, illiteracy also has a bottom-line effect for businesses. Its estimated that the cost of illiteracy to businesses and taxpayers is roughly $20 billion per year and roughly $73 billion per year in direct health care costs. Rock-bottom line: BCK serves our local children whose families are living at or below the poverty federal level to ensure they don’t add to these statistics.

Be awesome! Be a book nut- A BCK Nut!

‘You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child’ but in case you are –you can still support BCK to help local children find the magic wherever they look – so they, too, can sit back and relax and read a good book. Simply accept BCK’s invitation to attend their Thanks a Million celebration, on February 28at a private club in Port Royal. To find out more about the celebration or to make a donation, please visit WWW.BOOKSFORCOLLIERKIDS.ORGor contact Nora Kolmer @ JKOLMER627@AOL.COM

Remember what Dr. Seuss said: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

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