Backpacks for Schools 2010 - "Spark the Love of Reading"

New Outlook Pioneers- Penn Jersey Chapter 132 (a volunteer network) participated in the Pioneers Literacy Project – “Spark the Love of Reading” which was incorporated into our annual Backpacks for Schools 2010.  In an effort to encourage a love for reading among school-aged children and prime them to become more interested in reading, volunteers created a Family Fun Event.  

Held the last weekend of September at Stillman School in Plainfield in the morning and at Sunnymead School in Hillsborough later that day; more than 350 family members joined in for the “parties”.   Many of the parents (along with their children) involved themselves in the beading projects where they made bookmarks, key chains, bracelets, and necklaces. Nine pin the tail on the donkey games were hung around the walls of the multipurpose rooms.  As old as the game is, it was a huge hit – even for some of the older children who came with their younger siblings.  In Hillsborough, two students joined in reading the story “Atalata” during our story time session.  Three other older students decided to volunteer and helped with the donkey game and the beading project.  The refreshment selections in both schools were plentiful –and everyone seemed to like the choices very much. 

The best part of the day was when the Pioneers allowed the students to pick out their fully supplied backpacks that our volunteers “stuffed” notebooks, crayons, pencils, pens, tissues, glue sticks, pencil boxesand other required school supplies, and at least one great book to read at home.    Overall it was a great day!Most of the children participated in their individual school summer reading programs.  

The Pioneers purchased a total of 1,000 backpacks.  Students in Newark, Toms River, Lakewood and Neptune received the rest of the backpacks and books.  

Thanks to financial contributions from Stop and Shop and Watchung Hills Youth Benevolent Association who helped fund the project and purchase of new books.  Alcatel-Lucent Foundation, Affinity Credit Union, and Stepping Forward, LLC, arranged for collection boxes to be housed on their individual premises.  Employees, customers and friends of the businesses donated more than 80% of the back pack supplies.   Special thanks to Murray Hill Pioneer Club leaders (Joseph Early and Cynthia Price) for organizing all of the incoming supplies and managing the entire donation in-house process.  Additionally Pioneers received contributions from TD Bank, Staples, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Reliance Federal Credit Union, United Teletech Financial, Penn Liberty Bank, AAUW Book Sale, Sodexo, Burger King, Shop Rite,  BJs, Pathmark, A&P, Walmart, PNC Bank, Jackie Gates and other individuals who donated to this project to help accumulate all of the supplies needed.

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