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February was dedicated to raising funds for the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic. This clinic, awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy in 2006 for their work to reach low-income children most at risk for school failure, gives books to their young patients at their well child checks. For many of these children, the books are an exciting treasure – their only source for receiving a book to call their own. Our fundraising drive resulted in $1,700. We added to our original order, delivering a total of 348 new books to the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic valued at over $2,300. In addition, one of our Kids Need to Read volunteers happily hand-delivered 92 additional books, donated to us at the Phoenix Cactus Comicon by Marg of the Arizona Browncoats and supporter Amrit Kaur.
Kids Need to Read received the following kind letter from Hillary Chisholm, Program Assistant and Reach Out and Read Coordinator of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic:
Through the national Reach Out and Read program, clinics like ours receive limited funds to purchase books for children ages 0-5. Here at Odessa Brown, however, it is our goal to be able to provide books to patients of all ages, which is why we continually seek additional funding and donations of new and used books to supplement those purchased with official Reach Out and Read funds. The books donated by Kids Need to Read will greatly enhance the selection of titles we are able to offer to our elementary school-aged and teenage patients. The exciting titles will surely catch these kids’ attention, fueling both their imagination and their enthusiasm for reading! Thanks, Kids Need to Read!
We thank Hillary, as well as Antwanette Lyons, for helping our foundation make this a fun and successful experience. We are grateful to everyone who enthusiastically supported our February auctions, the Northern Virginia Browncoats and those who made generous personal donations for this drive. You can read how your contributions are making a difference for kids in the following experience shared by our KNTR Auction Coordinator, Debbie Brown:
When I arrived at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, I was about 20 minutes early. I checked in with the receptionist and sat down with the boxes of books I had brought with me. As I sat there, a young mother walked in with her son. He was about 4 years old and obviously in pain. He pulled at his left ear and said to his mother, “My ear hurts mama.” It was heartbreaking. Mom checked him in, picked him up and carried him to a seat not far from me. “Look at the fish . . . you always like the fish,” she said, but today the fish did not bring any comfort to the little boy. He sat curled up in his mother’s arms, whimpering quietly, and pulling on his little ear.
While we sat there, my phone rang, and I had to move my bag that was on top of the boxes of extra books that I had brought with me. These books had been donated to Kids Need to Read for the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic at the Phoenix Cactus Comicon by Marg of the Arizona Browncoats and Amrit Kaur. After the call, I put my bag on the ground next to my feet. The top box of books did not have a lid on it, so the books were now visible. The little boy looked over at the box and then lifted up his head off of his mother’s shoulder to get a better look. Most of the books that were visible were children’s picture books with brightly colored covers. I caught the little guy’s eye and said, “Would you like a book?” He looked at me shyly, and his mom said, “Go pick out a book, and we can read it.” He slowly crawled down from his mother’s lap and shyly walked over to me. He crawled up onto the chair next to the box and peered inside. “What’s your name?” I asked him. “Shawn,” he replied. “Hi, Shawn. My name is Debbie. What book would you like?” He looked back in the box and reached in with one hand to shift a few books around. He picked up a copy of Goodnight Moon and said, “I like this one.” I smiled at him and said, “Then it’s yours.” He grinned widely and crawled back down off the chair and ran over to his mother. She picked him up and started reading to him as she cradled him in her arms.
As I watched them, I realized that Shawn was not pulling at his ear anymore. He was sitting quietly on his mother’s lap transfixed on the colorful pages of the book in front of him. For those five minutes while his mother read to him, he forgot about his ear hurting. That is the power a book can have on a child. The comfort of a familiar voice of a loved one reading your favorite story is one of the most powerful things on earth. When his name was called, his mom picked him up and said, “Say thank you.” Shawn smiled at me and said in the sweetest little voice I have ever heard, “Thank you.”
Shawn may never know how much he affected me that day, but in that short time, he gave me a very precious gift. He reminded me of why I am doing all this, why we have all given our hearts to this endeavor: To bring books to children who need them. To give children the gift of reading.
When Hillary Chisholm came out to greet me, I was so excited to see what other things this afternoon had in store for me. She led me back into the clinic and took me to where all of the books we gave them were being stored. We approached a metal cabinet about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. When she opened the doors, my chin hit my chest. There they all were . . . all of the books KNTR had sent to them. The cabinet was packed FULL. You really don’t know how many 348 books are until you see them all together! It warmed my heart.
She then led me back to where their Book Nook is located. This is where all of the books the children can choose from are displayed by age range, so it is easy for the children to find the books that are appropriate for them. She had not put our books out yet because she wanted to know how we wanted them distributed. It is a wonderful set up.
Debbie Brown and Hillary Chisholm
We then made a decision on the best place to take the pictures and got to work on setting everything up. This particular Friday afternoon the dental clinic was closed, so there were not as many people in the waiting room, but we were able to get a few kids and started taking some photos. The kids were so funny! Their little personalities showed so brightly! After we took the pictures, we let the kids pick out a book to take home. One little boy named Colby, was looking very carefully at all the books. He picked up one book and ran his hand over the cover, and then put it back. Then he picked up another book and flipped it over in his hands. He looked back at the table, quickly put it down, grabbed The Softwire, looked up at me and said, “I want this one!” I said, “Very good choice, Colby, but why that one?” He smiled up at me and said, “I like to run!” and ran off to show his mom the book. I had to smile, because he was just so excited!
Debbie Brown, Hillary Chisholm and volunteer Marianne Mork
All in all, my afternoon at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic was one of smiles and laughter. I will never forget the looks on the children’s faces or the warm reception I received from the clinic’s staff. It was a wonderful and rewarding time, and I am grateful to Kids Need to Read for making it all possible. We are doing great things, and with everyone’s continued hard work and support, we will continue to bring the gift of reading to many more children.
Inspire Imagination through the magic of books!
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