Mia and I have been brainstorming ways to connect with our community in Charlotte, NC in a volunteer capacity to a cause that we are really passionate about. As fate would have it, we had a local clinic in the area reach out to us in order to assist with a book drive through Smart Start. Of course we jumped at the chance. Having grown up in a home where books were bountiful, and trips to the library were weekly- it is so disheartening to me that some children never even get the opportunity to experience the joys of reading all because they are unable to afford books, or lack transportation to visit libraries (don't get me started on the loss of funding to local libraries resulting in closures and limited hours of operation). So without hesitation, we readily agreed to assist!
What is Smart Start?
The mission statement found on their website perfectly sums up the ideals and goals driving the Smart Start Organization:
All children reach their potential and are prepared for success in school and life in a global community.
Facilitate the delivery of a high quality, collaborative, accountable system of care, family support, health services and education for every child beginning with birth.
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has identified the following goals that are essential to fulfilling this mission in our community:
- Identify, fund, and evaluate programs for children that prepare them for success in kindergarten and beyond.
- Educate the community about early childhood related issues.
- Lead the community efforts surrounding young children.
- Increase and expand revenue sources.
- Maintain a healthy strong board of community members. "
The Reach out and Read program within Smart Start aims at connecting low income families of children with books via their primary care medical provider. Children are provided with an age appropriate book at annual well check visits starting from birth so that by the time the children reach kindergarten- he/she has their own collection of 10 books. This program serves over 144,000 within North Carolina at 176 participating medical clinics (that's ALOT of books!).
How can we help?
Our role here at RealLifary will be to educate locally run businesses on our mission and request to use their businesses as a drop off/collection station for people in the community to donate gently used or new children books. So far, we have graciously been given permission to leave boxes at Dance Fusion of Harrisburg, Meineke Car Care in Harrisburg, and the local YMCA. These books will be collected over a one week time frame and given to CMC- Northpark Clinic to be distributed to children of low income and struggling families. We will also be doing pieces on each of the locally run businesses assisting us, highlighting their business and role in the community!
We are super excited and can't wait to bring the joy of reading to as many kids as possible! We will be updating you guys on on progress once the book drive has been completed!
*Note* if you are in the Charlotte area and able to donate but unable to make it to the drop off locations- let us know and either Mia or myself will arrange to pick up your donation!