Anytime you can involve the prowess of facial hair and a fundraiser....why wouldn't you? It's an idea that pops up a few times over the course of a year here or there and it's generally a good time for a great cause and with the Beards for Books event with the United Way of the Lakeshore it takes on an educational flare as well bringing the amazing gift of early reading to kids all across the Lakeshore as well as something a little more fun, let's explain.
Back a few months ago, out at the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District a smaller version of this competition came along. A small group of guys thought it might be fin to see who could grow their beards out and put some hoops to jump through in the mix. Get some donations from friend, maybe have to shell out a few bucks if you can't handle the itchy face while it's growing. The small event raised quite a bit for the United Way so after the "pilot program" the decision was made to take it to the masses and see what came of it, but who should it benefit?
That's pretty easy. Seeing as it was an idea born out of the MAISD, let's put the money raised toward literacy and help some kids get on the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. If you're unfamiliar, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides a brand new book to kids who are in the developmental reading stages of ages 0-5. The books come monthly in the mail, which is a huge part of the thrill of it all for the kids and what the underlying purpose of the program is to help parents spend time reading with their kids at home so the disparity of reading levels by the time kids enter school isn't what it is now. Reading to and with your children is the first key step in literacy. If by the 3rd grade a child's literacy level is behind, they are seriously at risk as a learner for the rest of their lives. It's proven too the literacy is the baseline for lifelong ability to grow not only in education but employment as not being able to read is one of the key factors in poverty nationwide and it all ties back to Dolly Parton and her roots, coming from a dirt floor home, having nothing, and her understanding of what it takes to break that cycle. She's become an icon in so many ways and her Imagination Library serves almost 2 million people a month, world wide.
So, we're on to details about our local effort through the month of March to help scrape up a few bucks to buy some books while we don't scrape our faces for a month, or maybe we do if it gets too itchy? Kara Zielinski is the Resource Development Director of The United Way of the Lakeshore and she joins for a chat about the fun event with so much purpose.
Game on! While Andy's Irish traits might keep him from the bearded prowess of most, the purpose behind all of this is to help give the gift of a lifetime to kids with literacy. The short term of this is that we occupy a little time and raise some money. The long term of it is that even helping a handful of people achieve the ability to read and break the barriers of poverty, shame and the unspoken secret of being illiterate. If you'd like to know more about The United Way of the Lakeshore, click on their logo below.