Pennies for Literacy is a campaign run by non-profit organization Give More HUGS (GMH) that aims to provide children with resources and facilitate a positive learning environment at Title I elementary schools.
“The unique aspect of Give More HUGS is that older students are working with and reading to younger students. Younger students not only enjoy receiving a new book, but also the time spent with an older student who took the time to read it,” said Chris McGilvery, executive director of Give More HUGS. “At the same time, older students are working on their reading skills and can serve as mentors to create a feeling of pride and accomplishment in serving their school and community.”
The Texas-based organization provides children with books and school supplies by collecting pocket change. The funds collected are used to buy books at discounted prices and provided to elementary schools in Texas and surrounding states. Once the books are bought, student and teacher ambassadors write inspirational messages inside the books and give them to the students.
“We support students who need educational materials by providing items such as books, basic school and art supplies, backpacks, and words of encouragement students need to reach their potential. Our team also works with older students to get them involved in their own schools and communities through our Ambassadors, BookShare, and Backpack programs,” according to the Give More HUGS website.
The BookShare project is a way to encourage a love for reading and share that with students, teachers and schools. Raising awareness for literacy is the purpose of the project and is accomplished with the help of teacher and student ambassadors that are participating in the Pennies for Literacy campaign.
“I like that Give More HUGS allows older kids, like me, to read to younger kids in the school. My goals are to make kids more open to learning, and to be there for them,” said Sydney Rogers, student ambassador for Give More HUGS. “I think kids would be happy to read if they get a new book with a nice note written in it. It would also show the younger kids that we are there for them.”
Rodgers, 9, is the youngest student ambassador for the nonprofit and met with the assistant principal of Reeves-Hinger Elementary in Canyon, Texas with the help of McGilvery. According to a press release sent out by Give More HUGS, “They spoke about the need for students to not only have access to books and school supplies, but also to work together.” Rodgers and McGilvery shared their experience and information about the program with West Texas A&M University’s Student Government Association and other organizations on campus.
The organization mission statement is “The mission of the organization is to unite with giving souls to provide youth with the tools to inspire a love for learning, reading, and creativity. The vision is to empower youth to stand up for quality education for all.”
Included is a list of schools and organizations participating in Pennies for Literacy in Texas:
Canyon/West Texas A&M University
American Chemical Society
Student Government Association
The Prairie News
David G. Burnet Elementary School
James Madison High School
New Tech High School
Luella Merrett Elementary
SS Dillow Elementary
Hutto/Round Rock ISD
Forest Creek Elementary School
Angelo State University, Kappa Delta Pi chapter
Dr. Hector Garcia Middle School
Murray Boone Elementary
Bonham Middle School
Lamar Middle School
Travis Middle School
Temple High School