Read United program helping children in the Coastal Empire

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 2:30 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:39 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The United Way of the Coastal Empire and WTOC are hosting a telethon to help get books in kids hands.

It’s all a part of the Read United program.

“We want to do everything that we can do to support the children and the families of our four-county region to be successful reading so that they can transition successfully from learning to read to reading to learn so that they can be more successful in life,” United Way of the Coastal Empire President/CEO Brynn Grant said.

The United Way’s Read United Program is a year-round initiative focusing on childhood literacy. It is made up of summer reading programs, reading buddy programs and a partnership with WTOC to raise money to provide books to young students across Southeast Georgia.

“We are giving away over 17,000 books,” Grant said. “About 61 percent of low-income children do not have books at home. And books at home is an important part of learning to read, loving to read.”

The books will be distributed on Read United’s most visible event, when community leaders share a joy of reading with children on Read United Day.

“We go as volunteers from this community into every classroom, Pre-K through second grade in Bryan, Chatham, Effingham and Liberty counties and we read to students. But we don’t just read to students, we leave a book for the classroom, and we give a book to every child,” Grant said.

Read United Day is Feb. 24, and the United Way is seeking 1,000 volunteers to read to kids.

“You can sign up for a specific school, a specific time and we hope everyone will do that. We hope that it fills up so fast with people who want to read to the children of our region, to invest themselves in these children, that we have to turn people away,” Grant said.

But the United Way will not turn away from extending Read United Day, so that it mirrors the schedule of the yearlong Read United Program.

“We hope by the time school starts next year, fall of 2023, we will be able to call for volunteers that want to and can dedicate time throughout the year, not just one day but every week of the school year to read to children and read with children. That’s quite an investment, a worthwhile investment. That’s something we’re working to build right now,” Grant said.