Thanks to a $15,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman, First Book gave children in rural Georgia more than 3,000 books. The award was made by Newman’s Own Foundation as part of its commitment to address issues of fresh food and nutrition education.
This donation is particularly important in Georgia, where overall child and family well-being ranks 39th in the United States.
For many of these children, it was their first opportunity to own a book. The joy on their faces as I told them they could keep the book was priceless. – Teacher in Stewart County, Georgia
With help from the Georgia Family Connection Partnership, a statewide network dedicated to the health and well-being of families, the funds provided books to 12 counties in Georgia: Marion, Macon, Stewart, Crisp, Clay, Randolph, Sumter, Quitman, Chattahoochee, Dooly, Webster, and Schley.
Most of the books were given along with programs about nutrition. At Head Start in Stewart County, the books went along with a lesson on healthy eating and My Plate, the USDA nutrition guide that replaced the food pyramid.
“The books were selected to improve their knowledge of healthy eating habits,” said a teacher with the Stewart County Family Connection. “Hopefully these books will be a constant reminder to eat healthy foods for a lifetime.”
Workers in Macon County set up book stations at three different events. The first book event was Dr. Seuss Read Across America Day on March 2, 2018. They also set up a book station at their local Head Start Registration. As parents and children signed up, each parent was given reading tips and five free books for their child. Thirdly, they coordinated with a local pediatric office and the Marshallville Police Department to promote early reading.
“We were able to send home books to many parents and children that have never had any books in their homes,” said Nicole Howell, of Macon County Family Connection. “Getting the free book grant thru Newman’s Own [Foundation] has truly been a blessing for our families and children in Macon County.”
Clay County Family Connection used their books to keep children entertained during bad weather. While everyone was stuck inside, children read to each other. This created more reading time for the students in hopes that it will help to improve reading skills.
“[Before this donation] We didn’t have access to many books for the different levels of reading skills, so this gift enabled us to get those books we needed,” said Eddie Watson from Clay County Family Connection.
Another book distribution happened at Tasty Success, a food forum program for families in Crisp County. Families received books along with an art-based activity, cooking demonstrations, and information for nutrition services.
“In a community with minimal financial support, the books were a vital contribution,” said Sherry Evans from Crisp County Family Connection. “The work at First Book is definitely important for the children in rural Georgia because we lack so many resources.”
Evans also said reading levels in her county are low, but the community is working together to improve them. “Partnerships like this with First Book allow folks at the local level to collaboratively create innovative approaches to improving third-grade reading scores in our area,” she said. “This gift furthered our mission to positively impact third-grade level reading scores by providing much-needed resources.”
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More information about Newman’s Own Foundation:
Newman’s Own Foundation uses all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own food and beverage products for charitable purposes. Since 1982, Paul Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have donated over $500 million to thousands of charities around the world.