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United Way supports our schools through volunteer and engagement opportunities

United Way of Southeastern Connecticut believes that all children should have the opportunity for academic success, and that our local schools and teachers should also be supported in that aim. That’s why United Way has created numerous ways in which individuals, organizations, and businesses in our community can work together to support education.

Twice yearly, United Way recruits volunteer readers to read to students in elementary school classrooms or in the school library. The first Reading Day coincides with Read Across America Day in early March to commemorate the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. Volunteers don Cat in the Hat striped stove pipe hats and read some of Dr. Seuss’ most famous works to children.

In October, United Way partners with Jumpstart to Read for the Record, a national initiative to get students and adults reading the same book on the same day for the world’s largest shared reading experience. In the case of both Reading Days, United Way provides a training and orientation immediately prior to sending volunteers out to elementary schools. In most cases, volunteers leave activities relating to each book with the students and teachers to further the learning experience. And in every case, the books read by volunteers are donated to the schools.

Every August, United Way mobilizes the community to collect and donate the material supplies needed for students to achieve success. Last year, the school supply drive yielded more than 8,000 donated items including flash drives, pencils and sharpeners, rulers, erasers, binders, and loose leaf paper. Groups are encouraged to run their own drive to participate in the effort, and donations can always be dropped off at United Way (283 Stoddards Wharf Road in Gales Ferry). Donations may also be dropped off at any branch of Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, Chelsea Groton Bank, and Dime Bank between August 8-19, 2016. Just look for the bright blue bins!

If your group is interested in supporting literacy efforts, United Way also has Child Literacy Kits available for assembly. Kits include an age-appropriate book and activities created by your volunteers relating to the book’s theme. Items in the kits may be bookmarks, construction paper, crayons, letters and numbers, and an activity guide for the parent or caregiver. The kits are delivered to local elementary schools.

Child Literacy Kits can be done on-site at your business or organization, making them a perfect means for your group to make a difference in a minimal amount of time. You may choose to accompany United Way staff with the delivery of kits to a local school. There is a cost associated with the Literacy Kits to cover the cost of supplies.

To learn more about United Way Reading Days, contact Sarah McDermott at United Way at sarah.mcdermott@uwsect.org.

To learn more about running a school supply drive or how you can help, visit www.uwsect.org/schoolsupplies.