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Altrusa starts summer with Reading Festival

By Clara Marts

Altrusa of Salisbury

“This year’s Altrusa Annual Reading Festival was better than ever,” expressed Project Chair Madeline Zieverink, “We had more vendors than our past two years present to talk to parents about their programs.”

Altrusa of Salisbury partnered with several community agencies such as Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency, The Salisbury Housing Authority, Smart Start Rowan, Boy Scouts of America, and Livingstone College to help connect parents to programs that are available in their communities.

“Our festival was a multi-organizational event that acknowledges the importance of literacy in our community,” said club president Beth Connell.

Altrusa of Salisbury began its annual reading festival in 2013 in order to promote literacy in Salisbury. The reading festival was an exciting way for us to put books in the hands of children and literacy information to the parents.

“We approached our idea to Michelle Patterson of Patterson Farms and she was enthusiastic to be part of such a great cause,” Connell said. “After that, we formed a projects committee to explore the logistics of putting an event of this magnitude together.  We are now on our third year.”

The reading festival brings published writers to the event to talk to children about a future as authors.  They are also able to sell signed copies of their books to interested participants.  During the festival, children can choose to get their faces painted, hair beaded, play games, or write their own stories at the “Write A Story” tent.  Stories come to life when animated storytellers retell stories of adventure in the Red Barn.  This event is only possible through the generosity of several organizations such as Kiwanis Club, Friends of the Library, First Bank, Woodforest Bank, Altrusa International Foundation, The Literary Bookpost, and private sponsors.

The Kiwanis Club provided children with a free lunch.  In addition to the lunch, Kiwanis Club also made a monetary contribution and partnered with Smart Start Rowan to purchase books that were given away at the event.  Also at the festival, Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency had their Head Start staff available to help sign up interested parents to next year’s Head Start school year.

The event would not be possible without the help of so many volunteers and sponsors, Altrusans and non-Altrusans.  Altrusa of Salisbury clocks in many volunteer hours in the planning of this event.  Any books not given away at the festival will be given away throughout the year at other community events to continue the efforts of giving children high quality books that they will treasure.  With this year’s festival over, the projects committee will begin to consider ways that this annual reading festival can improve each year.  “Our children’s education is something that we can all agree is an important way to help our community,” says club president-elect Cindy Nimmer, “and Altrusa of Salisbury will continue to work with community agencies to partner together and provide books to children all year long.”

If you want to help Altrusa with its upcoming literacy projects, contact Clara Marts at cimarts@fibrant.com.

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