Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The Ferst Foundation of Childhood Literacy continues to grow its Catoosa County branch that started in 2006.
“We are currently serving about 1,880 children,” said Catoosa Ferst chair person Melissa Holcombe. “According to our data, there are 3,500 children under the age of 5 in our area, so we are serving more than half.”
The goal, however, for the local Ferst branch is to serve every child under the age of 5 by getting books in their parents' hands to help improve childhood literacy.
“The children in our program receive one book every month from birth through age 5,” Holcombe explained. “That's a total of 60 books and all are age appropriate reading.”
The program orders books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and all the books each child receives have their names on them.
“(The kids) think they are really hot stuff when they get their books with their names on them,” Holcombe said. “It's something that's just for them and its really special.”
Catoosa Ferst is not income based, and families with eligible children can register for the program by visiting the website at www.ferstfoundation.org.
“Our local hospital, Hutcheson, also signs up babies when they are born and lots of local doctors and dentists offices have registration access too,” Holcombe said. “There are many opportunities to sign up and get more information.”
Books children receive from Catoosa Ferst also come with inserts of activities for parents to do with their children that help with reading.
A FERST FOR CATOOSA
For more information about Catoosa Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy or to register for the program, visit the organization's website.
“We feature some local news items and upcoming events,” she said. “For example, we have 1890's Days coming up at the end of this month, so our insert will have something about that in there. We try to look for free things for families to do together.”
Holcombe stresses that the one thing they want the community to know about Catoosa Ferst is the importance of finding children that qualify for the program and making sure to get them signed up.
“Literacy is the key to life,” she said. “If you can read and read well, then you're set for life.”
Catoosa Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy is funded by United Way of Greater Chattanooga, but donations are always welcome, according to Holcombe. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1175 Ringgold, Ga 30736.
Volunteer opportunities are also available for those wishing to be a part of the program in that way. To volunteer, call Melissa Holcombe at 937-3568 or Phil Ledbetter at 935-5018.