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568 Books Collected!

Oceana County stepped up in an amazing way this past month and donated 568 used books for the new early literacy “Read Early, Read Often” program. “It was an overwhelming show of support,” said Program Coordinator Hannah Juhl.  “The books will be a perfect fit for our program and were all in great condition as well. Almost half of the donated books were board books, ideally suited for babies and toddlers and often the most expensive to purchase.” The Youth Advisory Council of the Community Foundation for Oceana County (CFOC) hosted the drive, as part of their community service.

This new early literacy program also had a good turn out to its first community meeting on February 15th. Presenters included: Coordinator Hannah Juhl, Shelby Early Childhood Center Director Teresa Mead, and Community Foundation for Oceana County Director Tammy Carey. According to Mead “Kids Count data shows that 67% of Oceana 3rd graders are not proficient in English Language Arts. Shelby ECC’s parent group wanted to bring the Read Early, Read Often program to the area but we needed a fiscal partner and some program coordination. The Foundation stepped into that role and now we can benefit all kids in Oceana.”

At the kick-off meeting, discussion was centered on how to impact the community with a love of reading and help improve literacy rates. The meeting ended with a “Strategic Doing” workgroup session, so all participants could collaborate, share ideas & resources, and commit to doing something to move the program forward. Another outcome of the meeting was that an anonymous donor gift towards purchasing bilingual books was matched by the Mary Ann Peterson “Grandma Pete” Fund, providing $1000 in designated funds, ensuring that every family in Oceana will have access the resources they need.

The next “Read Early, Read Often” community meeting will take place on March 8th from 3:30-5:00 at the Oceana ISD Boardroom at 844 Griswold St in Hart. “This program will need the help of many volunteers spreading the word, distributing books, and advocating for this campaign. Everyone is welcome and we’re hoping to see even more people step up to help kids at our next meeting,” said Juhl. Interested persons can also contact Juhl at for more information.