Volunteer project helps spur young readers


RSVP of Montgomery County prepared 540 books for donation to Head Start preschoolers today.

The nonprofit is hoping to improve the literacy of children entering kindergarten by creating home libraries for local Head Start students. The little ones receive picture books six times each year.

RSVP in Blue Bell was aided by 50 Chartis Insurance executives who helped get things rolling during a recent volunteer day. (Chartis is a worldwide business that handles property-casualty and general insurance.)

With the firm’s help, RSVP was able to purchase picture books that employees wrapped in the comics section of the newspaper. (You see? Newspapers are still relevant.)

Chartis employees created personalized and customized laminated book marks, and decorated canvas tote bags  to help interest children in reading.

The activity was planned by RSVP as part of the nonprofit’s corporate partnership initiative, allowing companies to customize team-building volunteer activities that address the needs of the local community's most vulnerable populations. In this case,  the project was intended for disadvantaged preschool children.

"We know we can have a dramatic effect on the reading success of preschool children through our Family Literacy program", said RSVP Executive Director Michele Spencer. "Statistics tell us the average child growing up in a middle-income family has been exposed to 1,000 - 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading time while the average child in a low-income family has only been exposed to 25 hours.

“As a result, disadvantaged children may know only one or two letters of the alphabet when entering kindergarten, while children from middle-income families will know all 26."

"The opportunity to participate in such a worthy effort was a wonderful experience for us all," said George Stratts, president, Global Property for Chartis. "Our organization is proud to have been able to contribute and support Head Start through RSVP."