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Reading to Kids News

A Message from the Founders

Saturday, September 8 was a great day for Reading to Kids. 131 volunteers read to 383 children at our two schools; we celebrated our 1000th new volunteer that day; and we even got mentioned in the Spanish language newspaper, La Opinion, along with a picture of some of the kids! In fact, with September set as the month for our annual fundraiser, we were about to email all of our subscribers asking for help for the coming year (anticipating, of course, a very enthusiastic response).

Then came Tuesday, September 11, and our plans and the plans of a nation changed.

There are over 600 people on this email list. Over 1000 people have volunteered with us since this program began in May 1999. We were all affected by the events of two weeks ago, but for some of us, the impact may have been far more direct and personal. For those of you who did suffer losses, our deepest sympathies go out to you and your loved ones.

In the week after the tragedies of September 11, everything seemed to slow down. Normally, we get a steady stream of applications and RSVPs, but during that week, everything came to a halt. In our own small part of the world, we could see the effects of a nation in shock. But toward the end of last week and into this week we have seen something encouraging. Once again applications and RSVPs are coming in--at an even faster pace than in previous months. People are actively seeking ways to get involved in any way they can, and we are happy to provide volunteers in the Los Angeles community with the opportunity to do some good.

In light of recent events, we have decided to postpone our annual fundraiser until December. Although we always appreciate, encourage, and need donations, we will not actively solicit them from our email list until December. In the meantime, if you would like to donate to any of the numerous relief funds that have been set up for the relief agencies and the victims, please visit Yahoo's Relief Information site for more information.

Between now and the next reading clubs (October 13), if you would like to go out and do volunteer work so you can help make a difference in our community, please visit our website, click on Friends and Supporters, and check out "L.A. Works," "doingsomething," "VolunteerMatch," or "Helping.Org." Each of those sites lists volunteer opportunities that will take place between now and October 13.

Although we are not going to be actively soliciting for money between now and December, we are going to be actively soliciting for your help. As some of you know, Reading to Kids has recently hired a full time Program Coordinator, Monica Livingston, but we operate the reading clubs through the help of plenty of dedicated volunteers, teachers, and administrators. Our most active volunteers are members of what we call the "R2K Taskforce." If you are a returning volunteer and you would like to get more involved with the planning and future of Reading to Kids, we strongly encourage you to email Monica to let her know you would like to join the Taskforce. Much like the commitment to volunteer with us, your commitment to the Taskforce can be as much as you want it to be. Our goal is to create the opportunity for people to get more involved and to help us shape the future of this organization. In your email, just tell us what you would like to do and in what way you would like to help.

One final note. As many of you know, each month Reading to Kids buys the reading books that are used in the program and the prize books that are donated to the children. We have been doing this for the past two years by raising money from individuals and corporations and by receiving grants from foundations. Due to the economic uncertainty associated with these times, and after consulting with the schools and our R2K taskforce, we are going to temporarily suspend purchasing the reading books for the next three months. We will go to a dual list system for October, November, and December (we bought books for Gratts last year, and we will check books out for Magnolia from libraries based on both last year's and this year's list). We will still buy prize books for the children. We regret having to suspend our purchases of reading club books for the schools, and we hope that following our annual fundraiser (now set for December), and our aggressive efforts to apply for grants, we will have built up our finances again to provide us with a sufficient cushion going forward. If you have thoughts or ideas about opportunities to receive funding, please also contact Monica.

As always, and especially in these difficult times, thanks for your continuing interest in encouraging children to read.

Jason Axe and Jon Tomlin
Reading to Kids

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