Kiwanis of BENV helps ‘raise readers’

Kiwanis of BENV members Matt Wise and Penny Meyers accept a book grant check from PA Kiwanis Foundation chair Kristina Badali and board members Janine Surmick and Emily Reed.

MILL HALL — The members of the Kiwanis Club of Bald Eagle & Nittany Valleys (BENV) were ecstatic to hear last year that their club was the recipient of a grant from the PA Kiwanis Foundation to help fund their “BENV Kiwanis Helps Raise Readers Program.” They stretched these funds as far as they could throughout the Kiwanis year trying to reach as many community children as possible.

They immediately added Reading Corners to all of their signature projects. They invited local celebrities from the community and representatives from other community service organizations to read to the children attending the event.

Surrounding the Reading Corners were tables filled with books and all children could pick a book to take home with them. It was heart-warming for Club members to talk with children while assisting them in selecting a book and see their faces light up when they realized it was their book to keep.

In July, they hosted their first Back to School Book Bingo service project where children could play bingo and win prizes containing school supplies and books.

In September they partnered with Keystone Central School District’s Keystone Cares program by participating in “Reading under the Lights.” Again, they set up tables of books and Early Learning Guides and assisted children in selecting books that they took out on the football field and read as families and ultimately took the books home with them.

Guest reader Judy Brady reads to children at Kiwanis of BENV’s 2018 Kids Day event. PHOTOS PROVIDED

In November, members visited the Clinton County Housing Authority and provided books and games to the children while their parents met with Tenant Services. They read to the children and let them keep the books at the center to establish their own small library.

In preparation of the holiday season, members wrapped 75 books for Santa to give away at the Walker Township Breakfast and 25 books for Infant Development Program to enjoy reading during their December classes.

In February, the Club partnered with Lock Haven University Circle K, Lock Haven University, and UPMC Susquehanna to assemble Jared Boxes for use at the local hospitals. Books were purchased to place in each of the boxes.

Their latest project is constructing and filling Birthday Baskets to give to children at Infant Development Program and other local daycare facilities to make their birthdays a little extra special and to let them know that Kiwanis cares about them. With the remainder of the grant money the club was able to purchase the PA One Book for each child that is enrolled at Busy Bees Daycare.