COPPERAS COVE — Today, millions of Americans will unite in a common mission to improve the lives of others as part of national Make A Difference Day.
One philanthropic club in Copperas Cove got a jump- start on the service day by distributing books at all of the Head Start pre-school programs in the community. Altrusa International distributed books Thursday to more than 100 children at Sunshine Head Start, North Drive Head Start and Cove Park Head Start.
“It is important to get books into the hands of these younger kids so that they are already good readers when they get into elementary school,” said Inez Faison, the Altrusa Make A Difference Day coordinator and one of the project’s founding members. “We already were giving books to all of the Cove elementary schools and I said, ‘What about those kids who are not in school?’ Books are expensive, but this is a worthwhile project that our club can do every year.”
The Copperas Cove Altrusa chapter has donated books to the Head Start programs for more than 10 years and donates books to all Cove elementary schools.
Literacy is the main focus of Altrusa International.
“We provide books for children to learn to read. We also provide large print books for the elderly in some of the nursing homes in the area,” said Diane
Payne, president of Copperas Cove’s Altrusa chapter.
“Since the money was pulled from the Reading is Fundamental program, we are really working four times as hard to get as much money as we can to keep our kids in Cove reading.” In 2011, funding was cut for the national program, which provided 4.4 million children with free books at nearly 17,000 locations throughout the United States including Texas. In 2012, the U.S. Education Department awarded $28 million to boost literacy skills for low-income students in high-need areas. Although 10 Texas cities were awarded grants, none of them were in Central Texas.
Head Start directors were excited to receive the books for the children.
“Reading means a lot to us and to the kids. We are very honored that (Altrusa) comes every year and chooses to donate to us,” said Dawn Taylor, Cove Park Headstart director. “These books help build libraries for children and for families in need. It helps us stress the value of lifelong learning and the importance of learning to read.”