Covering Kentucky

Dec 2, 2012 3:43 PM

Book Donation To Help Thousands Of Children

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - More than 15,000 books have arrived in western Kentucky thanks to a donation made by Scholastic Inc. to the Marine Corps League's Toys for Tots program.

Matt Fitzgerald, who coordinates the program in Daviess and other nearby counties in western Kentucky, told the Messenger-Inquirer (http://bit.ly/V6La5g) that the gift from the children's book publisher was both "a great blessing" and "a logistical nightmare."

He said the books are for children from newborn to 12 years old,

"That's pretty much the age group that Toys for Tots targets," Fitzgerald said. "Last year, we served about 8,000 children. This year, we can double that."

He said his aim is to hand out 20,000 books to children this Christmas.

Last week, Fitzgerald and Jerry Paul, the former Toys for Tots coordinator for the region, unloaded about 2,000 of the books from a trailer so they could be taken to Christmas Wish and The Salvation Army, which is helping to distribute them to underprivileged children.

"Books can help children break out of the cycle of poverty," Fitzgerald said. "They give them the tools they need to succeed."

Other organizations that will help distribute the books include the Daniel Pitino Shelter, OASIS, Help Office, Housing Authority, local schools, Girls Incorporated and the Cliff Hagan Boys & Girls Club.

Toys for Tots launched a national literacy program in 2008 with help from The UPS Store and Scholastic Inc., but this is the first time the western Kentucky region comprised of Daviess, Hancock, Muhlenberg, McLean and Ohio counties has received a donation of books from that initiative, according to Fitzgerald.

He said a majority of the books will stay in Daviess County because it is larger than the others, but area organizations will coordinate efforts to distribute them.

"We will work together to ensure that every child has access and exposure to books at home and in their communities," Fitzgerald said.

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Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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