Imagine each child having a head start in school before they ever walk through the school door for the first time. Imagine them enjoying learning and being able to communicate effectively, which are foundations of success in life.
Ferst Readers strives to create lifelong learners by providing engaging books and valuable literacy resources during the earliest stages of development.
Because the key to helping a baby’s brain develop is exposure to rich language and loving interactions, children in the Ferst Readers program receive a free, bookstore-quality, age-specific book every month until their 5th birthday, while their parents receive resources to enhance the reading experience.
In Greene and Morgan counties, these books automatically arrive at the child’s home in the mail. In Putnam County, the books are sent home from school or daycare in the child’s backpack.
Colby Hunter, a foster parent in Putnam County who also is the Morgan County Library Manager, says Ferst Readers has been a great program to help his 4-year-old foster child follow the steps to reading readiness.
“She really enjoys reading all the books, and she gets really excited when they are delivered to her at school,” Colby says. “She loves to bring them home and wants us to read them right away. I think Ferst Readers is great to help build the foundation for a child to read, and it’s especially good for parents who can’t afford to go out and buy books themselves.”
With an estimated 1,000 children currently receiving Ferst books in Putnam County, and approximately 500 in Greene, and another 750 in Morgan County, plus the need to serve additional children who aren’t yet enrolled, any donation to the respective Ferst Readers “Community Action Teams” is an extremely worthwhile investment in making a difference in the lives of local children and the future of our communities.
Many businesses, civic clubs, and individual persons offer financial support to the Greene, Morgan, and Putnam counties’ programs, but more are needed. Each of the Community Action Teams’ previously-planned fundraiser events had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 restrictions, so they are appealing to members of their respective communities to “Adopt a Reader.”
How to help:
A donation of $36 will provide one child an age-appropriate book each month for one year, and will provide Ferst’s “Leap Into Books” parent engagement newsletter monthly.
For Greene or Putnam County, checks made out to Ferst Readers can be mailed to P.O. Box 111, Greensboro, GA 30642. Donations made by mail are accepted anytime. Or, donations made online via credit card are accepted until Dec. 31, 2020 at the Ferst Readers website. Putnam and Greene evenly split the proceeds of their fundraisers even though their budgets are separate, according to Putnam’s spokesperson, Gail Farmer. Greene is supported by many more affluent homeowners while Putnam has more CAT members/volunteers, so they each share the responsibilities.
In addition to adopting one reader, Morgan County has other direct-give opportunities:
(1) Ferst Fifty – support 10 children for one year for $360; or (2) Business donation of $500 per year. Donations can be made via Morgan’s website, www.childrenferst.org and clicking on the donate button. Morgan’s CAT currently has 20 members, according to CAT President Wayne Myers. Other interested volunteers may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registering a child:
The CAT’s not only work to raise funds, but also register children to receive the books. They have partnered with their respective libraries, schools, and health departments to register future readers, as well as manning booths at many local events.
Parents wishing to register a child ages birth to 5 years old, may do so by visiting one of the places listed in the previous paragraph, or online at the respective websites of the Ferst CAT where the child lives: Morgan - http://www.childrenferst.org/register;
Greene and Putnam - https://ferstreaders.org/resources/register-a-child-sub/register-a-child.
To keep up with each of the latest happenings of each CAT, follow their respective Facebook pages.
This article, by Lynn Hobbs, appeared in our November/December 2020 edition of Lakelife.