Coast Guard Partners with First Book to Help Children in Need

WASHINGTON – As part of its 217th Birthday observance, Coast Guard units around the nation are working with First Book, an award-winning nonprofit organization, to provide children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books.

Starting this week and continuing all month, Coast Guard and First Book partners will be spreading the magic of reading in locations from Key West, Florida to Galveston, Texas by visiting programs serving children in need and providing brand new books and hosting special story time events. The new editions of “Green Eggs and Ham” will be included in materials going to Headstart students in Texas and to Florida children receiving family-support services through Wesley House, one of the state’s most active local agencies.

“One of the greatest gifts a child can receive is the life-long habit of reading,” said Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard. “Books open up our minds and spirits to the mysteries and wonders of the world. I’m proud of the Coast Guard’s partnership with First Book and am thankful for the hundreds of Coast Guard men and women who donate their time and talent to help bring books into the lives of children. Walt Disney had it right when he said that there is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island.”

Since the U.S. Coast Guard named First Book as its signature charity in 2000, together they have provided more than 13 million books to children from low-income families. Some of the amazing work that First Book and the U.S. Coast Guard have already achieved together includes:

  • U.S. Coast Guard Operations Systems Center in Kearneysville: In June 2007, with the help of the West Virginia Air National Guard, the Coast Guard Operations System Center in Kearneysville coordinated a First Book distribution in West Virginia during which an estimated 500,000 books were shipped, stored and distributed.
  • Integrated Support Command New Orleans: Volunteers and warehouse space donated by ISC New Orleans has made it possible to distribute more than 1.2 million books across the country, and throughout the Gulf Coast to children and families, as well as school and community libraries destroyed by the hurricanes of 2005. Aviation Training Center Mobile: Over 500,000 books have been distributed to programs serving children affected by the hurricanes of 2005. Donated warehouse space and volunteer time to First Book made this possible.
  • Integrated Support Command San Pedro: Donated volunteer time and warehouse space dedicated to the partnership since 1992 has made it possible to distribute over 340,000 books from San Pedro.
  • Commander Anita Abbott, from ISC San Pedro, competed against local community leaders to read the most words in 15 seconds as part of a First Book Speed ReadTM event. Each word generated three books for a child in Los Angeles. Commander Abbott currently holds the U.S. Coast Guard’s record for First Book’s fastest “Speed Reader” with 107 words, which resulted in a donation of 321 books.

The Coast Guard established a national partnership with First Book as part of its Partnership in Education program. Support for the partnership includes making spaces, facilities and vessels available to store and help facilitate the distribution of new books to disadvantaged children, hosting book parties sponsored by First Book, and conducting unit tours for children served by First Book.

First Book is a nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. Through hundreds of local Advisory Boards, the First Book National Book Bank, and the First Book Marketplace, the organization provides an ongoing supply of new books to children participating in community-based mentoring, tutoring, and family literacy programs. First Book has provided more than 50 million new books to children in need in thousands of communities nationwide. For more information vist the First Book website or call 866-393-1222.

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