Iowa Volunteers Seek to Boost Literacy This Month
Thursday, April 13, 2023
April is Global Volunteer Awareness Month, and in Iowa advocates are calling on people to donate books and their time to help kids learn to read them.
Few books and low literacy rates are especially acute in disadvantaged areas of the state. United Way of Central Iowa is focusing on literacy this month, helping get books into the hands of people who need them, and calling on volunteers to help children learn to read, especially in economically challenged communities.
Joy Talmon, volunteer engagement officer for the United Way of Central Iowa, said there is a huge disparity between economically stable and unstable communities.
"For a middle-income household, we see 13 books per child," Talmon pointed out. "When you move into our lower-income households, we see one book per 300 children."
Facing such a disparity, United Way is trying to collect 24,000 books this month.
Iowa ranks in the top third of states in number of hours volunteered, and in the top ten for informal volunteering, such as when someone shovels a driveway, cooks a meal or just spends time with someone who is alone.
Talmon noted informal volunteering is an important component to the awareness month.
"Iowa in particular is really ingrained at helping your neighbor," Talmon observed. "We have a lot of individuals that are willing to step up and help their 'neighbor.' Somebody who needs tax assistance or a child that needs a mentor, a room that needs to be painted for a program."
Talmon added volunteering does not have to involve a large time commitment, and added every hour donated to help someone else is important.
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