The L.O.U Reads Coalition (www.loureads.org), co-convened by United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County (UWOLC) and the Lafayette County Literacy Council, is giving away free books to children who participate in Oxford School District’s Summer Meal Program from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the Oxford Intermediate School (501 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive).
The Summer Meal Program provides a free lunch to all children 18 years old and younger every weekday throughout the summer. L.O.U Reads will provide one free book per week to any elementary school age child that shows up to the school for lunch until July 16, 2015.
Summer is a time for relaxing and enjoying free time. Unfortunately, it is also a time during which many children lose learning gains achieved during the school year. To help combat this “summer slide,” L.O.U. Reads started planning a program to coincide with the free summer lunch program early in spring. Reading books over the summer is one of the easiest ways for children to stay prepared for the new school year.
L.O.U Reads coalition member Meghan Gallagher, an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, spearheaded a county-wide book drive to collect books for the summer lunches. Both county and city school districts, along with several local businesses and non-profit organizations, served as drop-off locations for gently used and previously loved books. L.O.U. Reads was able to collect hundreds of donated books, as well as enough money to order 160 brand new books, all of which are being given out during the summer.
“The community was so generous! Families and individuals, community groups and university students, were all willing to help us combat the learning loss many kids experience over the summer when not enrolled in school. We don’t want our teachers to have to spend a lot of time re-teaching important lessons at the beginning of the school year because of the dreaded ‘summer slide,’” said Gallagher.
Sylvia Stewart, an AmeriCorps VISTA for UWOLC and an L.O.U. Reads coalition member, coordinated the Summer Reading @ Summer Feeding book giveaway, and she has been at the Oxford Intermediate School every Thursday since mid-June handing out books. She is sure that all of the books that L.O.U. Reads collected and purchased for the book drive will be gone by the time the summer feeding program concludes.
“The level of excitement for the free books was tremendous! The first day I showed up with a single box of books to give away, so I had to call a coworker at United Way to bring even more books up to the school. It’s been a very exciting and rewarding experience,” said Stewart.
The Lafayette-Oxford-University (L.O.U) Reads Coalition will continue to give away free books to children at the Oxford School District Summer Meal Program on Thursday July 9 and Thursday July 16 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.
The last day to get free books at the Summer Meal Program will be Thursday, July 16, 2015. The L.O.U. Reads Coalition hopes that this year’s successful book drive and giveaway will be repeated in summer 2016!