(L to r) Target Corporate Partner employee volunteers Courtney Cox, Josephina Gonsalez, Assistance League of Diablo Valley President Margie Basile, Grants Chairperson Susan Angle, READ Co-Chairman Gen Camera, Target employee volunteer Nonia McHenry, and Corporate Partners Chairman Lesley Salo place "I LOVE TO READ" stickers in books donated to 13 elementary schools in the local community.
For nearly 47 years, Assistance League® of Diablo Valley has improved lives in the Contra Costa community through its hands-on philanthropic programs. The READ program, an acronym that stands for Read, Enrich, Achieve, and Discover, was established in 2003 to provide member volunteers to read to second grade students, as well as donate books to their classrooms. Over the years, READ has also donated money for purchasing books for the schools’ libraries.
This year, READ volunteers staff 13 elementary schools, 12 in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and one in Walnut Creek. This computes to 1420 students in 54 classrooms, many of whom start each monthly READ session with the same statement: “I LOVE TO READ!” To that end, an “I LOVE TO READ!” sticker can be found in each of this year’s 14 books donated to every classroom, 756 in total. The READ philanthropic program has also purchased books valued at $500 from a wish list supplied by each of the 13 school librarians for their respective libraries.
More recently, the READ program has purchased a gift book for each of the students. When faced with the overwhelming task of placing the stickers in these books, corporate partner employee volunteers from Target answered the call. Known as the second largest retailer in the U.S., Target is also one of the most philanthropic companies. Target donates around 5 percent of its pre-tax operating profit; it gives over $4 million a week (up from $3 million the year prior) to the communities in which it operates. A unique feature, Target team members give hundreds of thousands of their personal hours volunteering in their communities every year.
Corporate Partners Chairman Lesley Salo stated that on March 6, employee volunteers from Target, Walnut Creek returned to Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s Annex to place an “I LOVE TO READ!” sticker in each of the gift books, a skill already mastered in previous years. READ Co-Chairman Gen Camera updated the Target volunteer employees and described this year’s gift book selected, Nate the Great, San Francisco Detective. As part of a series, this “chapter book” relates how Nate hopes to help his cousin Olivia keep the world from coming to an end and, therefore, solve his first out-of-town case. The book concludes with activities designed to interest and challenge the students with both fun and enrichment exercises. Second grade students are scheduled to receive the gift book during the last READ session in May as an encouragement to continue their love of reading during the summer months.
Assistance League of Diablo Valley has enjoyed a corporate partnership with Target since 2007. Its financial and hands-on contributions to the READ program have helped instill the love of reading in thousands of young readers in the Contra Costa community. To learn more about Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s eight philanthropic programs and its Corporate Partnerships, please visit its website: diablovalley.assistanceleague.org.