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EPIC and 7 News book drive help collect roughly 4,500 books for WNY children

EPIC books collection.jpg
Posted at 4:53 PM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 17:34:31-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Reading: it's fundamental, and without it creates immense disadvantages to one's life.

According to "Literacy Buffalo", 17.5% of adults living in Erie and Niagara Counties struggle due to lack of functional literacy, reading at or below level 1. This amounts to 147,599 people.

However, the non-profit organization, Every Person Influences Children (EPIC), is ensuring to spark that love of learning in a child in the Western New York community.

"Our vision is a world where every child has a start to a promising future and so to have the support of Channel 7 and tools like this really means that we are going to carry out that vision and that mission of strengthening families and building community," EPIC development and marketing director, Liz Vetrano said.

EPIC family engagement and professional development director, Jamie Rackl said, "We truly believe that parents and adults in children's lives are their first and best teacher. Maybe these books go to grandma's house because grandma helps watch the little person, so they've got books at home and they've got books at grandma's."

EPIC is hoping to decrease that gap by spreading some literacy love.

Rackl said, "In New York State, the way that we sort of unpack literacy, is that really from birth until about third grade, the kiddos are learning to read and that gets really specific in kindergarten when they start learning about sight words and start learning their alphabet. Right around third grade, it shifts and children stop learning to read. We assume that's done and they begin reading to learn."

If children do not have these strong skills by third grade, they start to fall further behind if there is not an intervention.

Rackl added, "We just really want to make sure that they're going in strong and that they don't need the intervention. That they're just ready to go."

The organization shared that roughly 4,500 books were collected for the non-profit which is double the goal amount.

The generosity of Channel 7 and everybody that made this possible is unparalleled. This is so exciting. For us to receive more than 4,000 books, truly means that every child in Western New York who wants a book we're going to be able to get it to them," Vetrano said.

Once labeled with the official "EPIC" sticker and divided by grade levels, the organization plans to visit community events and areas with a lot of foot traffic to give the books to families in the community.

Rackl said, "Where they're going to go is all over the place. So, we utilize these books in the Ready Set Read Program, which is a family engagement literacy program and for families for kiddos birth to age 8."

"Whether it's Spanish, whether it's about dinosaurs or cars, or dogs or Barbie's or whatever it might be, there's going to be a book out there that is going to spark that love of learning in a child," Vetrano added