Books 4 Buddies Hosts Back to School Block Party

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Rosalyn Koontz enjoying the Block Party with her granddaughters. From left to right: Tyana Koontz, Vivianna Koontz, Rosalyn Koontz, and Adriana Koontz.

By Leah Williams

Books 4 Buddies [B4B] with special participation by the Toledo Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. hosted a Back to School Block Party on July 17 in the Birmingham Terrace LMHA community.

A volunteer serves lunch during the Back to
School Block Party.

The Back to School Block Party provided families with free school supplies, vision screening, and a cookout lunch as well as arts, crafts, and face painting. Community partner Toledo Public Schools was also on hand to offer kindergarten and Head Start registration to attendees.

As a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy and reading, Books 4 Buddies collects new and gently used books for disadvantaged youth. The brainchild of Toledo native, Touré McCord II, B4B has several media/community partnerships and receives support in the form of new and “gently used” donations from local businesses, bookstores, and the general public.

Bob Mendenhall, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Toledo Public Schools and B4B Board Member said that the event was in line with the school district’s commitment to literacy.

Smiles all around for these girls after getting their school supplies and books.

We’ve been doing these community events for the last 5 or 6 years. We go to various LMHA sites along with community partners to bring awareness to their programs as well as bring awareness to what we do in Toledo Public regarding early childhood, Head Start registration, kindergarten registration and information about the district,” Mr. Mendenhall said. “The main piece of this is that we promote literacy. At the end of last school year, we had our Chromebook giveaway to promote literacy and to help combat summer slide. And this is another program that we do in which we giveaway gently used books to help families build their own libraries in the home.

Books 4 Buddies Board Members and Book Ambassadors. Back row from left to right: Bob Mendenhall and Richard Jackson. Front row from left to right: Christopher Smith, Dorian Myers, Laneta Goings, John Dolsey, and Justin Teamer.

Along with all the other activities, the B4B Book Ambassadors dressed in bright orange shirts read children’s books to the Block Party’s youngest attendees. As the program’s public face, Book Ambassadors act as reading role models to the community and are all high school age young men from across Northwest Ohio.

When asked why he wanted to be involved with B4B, Book Ambassador John Dolsey said a friend recommended the program and guaranteed a positive experience.

Books 4 Buddies Founder and President Laneta Goings, left, speaks with Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. Alpha Xi Lambda Chapter Vice President John C. Jones, right.

“He said this is something I would love to do, and he was right. I love it,” Mr. Dolsey said. “[B4B] resonates with me. I’m actually dyslexic so I love reading to kids. I love seeing the impact it has on kids, and I love giving away books.”

The next Books for Buddies Back to School Block Party will be held at the Weiler Homes on July 31 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. All LMHA families are invited to join Books 4 Buddies for free books, school supplies, and lunch.