WAUKEGAN – The volunteers of Words on Wheels know music, play and reading go a long way when it comes to brain development among young children.
The leaders of the Grand Foundation know a great thing when they see one. So in June, the two nonprofits will join forces for a book drive benefiting Lake County-based Words on Wheels.
It’s all part of the Grand Foundation’s new 12 Months of Giving program, which launched this year as part of its mission to foster education and social harmony opportunities for all ages in the communities served by Grand Appliance stores. Each month the foundation highlights a charity with a collection, item drive or volunteer sign-up.
“I was overwhelmed at how generous the Grand Foundation is,” said Beth Ragsdale, founder and executive director of Words on Wheels, which serves children at locations in Waukegan, Zion and North Chicago. “Everybody knows Grand Appliance. It’s awesome what they’re doing, and I appreciate it very much.”
“It’s a great organization,” Grand Foundation Executive Director Meagan Gauri said of Words on Wheels. “This is a great way to support and shine a light on their wonderful work.”
Words on Wheels, which started in 2011, sends volunteers to transitional living facilities, emergency shelters and community houses in Waukegan, Zion and North Chicago, Ragsdale said. The volunteers engage in songs, reading and interactive play primarily with children from infants to 5-year-olds. Older siblings also are welcome. Each participating child leaves with a bag containing a book, puppet, bubbles and a musical instrument.
“We’re not trying to teach these children how to read,” Ragsdale said. “But we are engaging them in activities that will foster later reading skills ... you can see these babies’ brains get tickled.”
Book drive bins will be available in Chicago, Waukegan, Libertyville, Crystal Lake and Kenosha, Wisconsin, Grand Appliance stores throughout June. Gently used or new books are welcome. Of particular need are books written for infants through 5-year-olds.