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United Way, SOAR partners encourage early reading with free books

The Early Readers Become Leaders Book Funds Drive comes to a close with book deliveries to local pre-kindergarten classrooms.

San Marcos, TX –United Way of Hays County and other partners in SOAR (Seeking Opportunities, Achieving Results) teamed up to raise funds for the Early Readers Become Leaders Book Funds Drive, to give brand-new books to young students entering pre-kindergarten in Hays County.

Nearly 400 pre-k students at Hernandez Elementary School in San Marcos took home bags filled with brand-new books to expand their at-home libraries. Each pre-k teacher was also given a classroom set of books for use in instruction.

In addition to the distribution to SMCISD classrooms, pre-kindergarten classrooms at all Hays County Head Start centers will receive book bags as well. More than 350 students at Head Start Centers will receive books bags to take home in October.

“Improving access to at-home literacy materials is a first step in improving students’ school-readiness skills, as well as preparing students for long-term academic success,” says Michelle Harper, President/CEO of United Way of Hays County. “Studies suggest a strong correlation between having access to reading materials at home and academic performance, as well as educational attainment."

The Early Readers Become Leaders Book Funds Drive is a collaborative between United Way of Hays County, Texas State University, the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce and SOAR partners, to promote literacy in children ages 0-6 by increasing access to quality books and learning materials.

Every book bag included classic titles including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, How Much is A Million, Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story and On The Way to Kindergarten. The bags also include a literacy kit, centered around The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which includes a board book, corresponding craft project, and story-extender booklet with activities for parents to work on with their children, to boost literacy skills.

Funds to purchase books were collected through donations from community sponsors, as well as through collection cans set up at San Marcos area businesses. This project was made possible thanks to Butler Manufacturing, McCoy’s Building Supply, Texas State Optical San Marcos, Michelle and Ruben Lopez, TXI, Little Guys Movers, Relative Automotive, Colormix Graphics & Printing, Hays County Bar Association, Rose Books, Yogurt in Love, Angela and Chris Nussel, Brian and Jean Bondy, ExamKrackers, Pam Gill, Dianne Pape, Grace Davis, Michelle Hamilton, Veronique Hahn, A Friend of United Way, HH Fitness, Stephanie Pool, Margaret and Paul Lindsey, Shaila and Gene Martin, Gena Courtney and Katrina Storch.

United Way of Hays County works to advance the common good by investing in and developing programs that address needs in education, income/financial stability and health in Hays County. United Way of Hays County works to improve education opportunities and quality learning opportunities for Hays Children, starting from birth and spanning through the critical developmental years. The Early Leaders Become Readers Book Funds Drive is an initiative to further United Way of Hays County goals to increase school readiness rates, increase the percentage of children who enter kindergarten ready to learn and increase the percentage of young people graduating from high school on time. To learn more about United Way of Hays County education programs and to be involved, visit