Bright Star Books Inc.

Among the seven community organization’s awarded grants, the Portage Foundation also awarded a grant of $1,000.00 to Bright Star Books Inc. The mission of Bright Star Books is to promote a culture of reading by increasing access to and ownership of books for limited-resource children in the Greater Akron region.

Since mid-2014, Bright Star Books has given approximately 177,000 books to about 40,000 children, nearly all of whom live below the poverty line, including just over 35,000 books given in 2019.

The original use for the funds was dedicated to purchasing books for WIC2Go, a pilot program developed by Portage County WIC’s (Women, Infants & Children) Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. Approximately 800 of Portage County WIC’s child-clients ages 1-5 can participate in this program.

These books would then be included in interactive nutrition-education activities, designed by Portage County WIC’s dietitians, while waiting to begin their WIC appointments, along with WIC2Go handouts in the waiting room.

Due to some changes in the WIC offices and limited in-person appointments, Bright Star Books had to modify the initial grant request to accommodate for socially distant WIC appointments.

“Currently no WIC clients are going into WIC offices now,” Keith Seher, Executive Director of Bright Star Books said. “Most appointments are through phone calls, but Portage County has been doing curbside visits having socially distant conversations.”

Bright Star Books has modified the distribution of the books and information nutrition handouts to make sure the WIC child-clients are still able to experience these nutrition-education activities.

“Instead of receiving these books in the office or waiting room, they will now be receiving informational handouts during curbside appointments,” Seher said. “We wanted to emphasize giving the books, but also reinforcing the nutritional and healthy eating lessons that were the reason these books were being picked for this particular program.”

Through the years, Bright Star Books has relied on gently used children’s book donations and has then redistributed them through Summit County WIC. Bright Star Books expanded to Portage County WIC in early 2018.

“Our goal is eventually to give 10 books a year to every child enrolled in Summit, Portage and Medina county WIC, which will be about 10,000 children ages 0-5 every year,” Seher said.