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Handing out books to tackle “summer learning loss” during a national Day of Action

Milledgeville, GA (June 21, 2017) – The United Way of Central Georgia and Americorps Vista donated books to dozens of kids in Baldwin and Jones counties. The reading initiative to encourage those children to continue learning while school is out was part of United Way’s national Day of Action campaign.

The children receiving the bags full of books and other reading and writing items came from the summer care program by the Boys & Girls Club of Baldwin and Jones County. Volunteers gave out 85 bags to children in two club locations – Milledgeville and Gray. The donated bags included crayons, word search games and coloring books.

The volunteers came from Georgia Power, the Georgia Military College’s varsity football team and other local organizations. Among those lending a hand was Hope Hines, a vice president of mortgage lending at Exchange Bank of Milledgeville.

Learning to read for pleasure and learning to read for work are two different things,” said Hines, who is also a United Way of Central Georgia board member. “This program teaches these kids to read for pleasure and gives them coping skills for stress through reading.”

Volunteers shared how the power of reading shaped their lives with the children assembled at the Milledgeville club.

“When I was a kid, I liked to read Dr. Seuss books because I was the kind of kid who liked rhyming,” Joe Mitchell, a Georgia Power engineer, told the children. “You’ll read in school and that’s important. But when you read on your own, it’s that much better to get you where you want to go.”

Nine-year-old Javonte Smith of Milledgeville said the gift he received will help him read better and get good grades.

Americorps Vista gave a $1,000 grant to purchase the bags, books and other items that were part of the kit.

The United Way’s Day of Action is an annual event that mobilizes volunteers to make an impact in more than 400 communities around the world. Last year, more than 418 United Ways in 21 countries assembled volunteers during the Day of Action. This year’s national focus was on summer learning and nutrition.

Summer Learning Loss

Kids who don’t continue academic work during the summer can forget what they learned during the school year, experiencing what’s called the “summer slide.” Children from low-wage families slide a lot further, often starting school with a two-month lag in math and a three-month delay in reading. By middle school, these students have lost two full years of learning according to the National Summer Learning Association