Putting books in young hands
Late last year, Rotarians teamed up with RAAFA retirees at Merriwa Estate and local businesses to provide free books for children in the north coast suburbs of Perth.
The initiative began when the Rotary Club of Mindarie joined the national REaD initiative and recruited RAAFA estate retirees Kevin Brown, Noel Cahill and Bernie Schuller to make red boxes for the books.
The boxes are located at Goodstart Early Learning Centres in Clarkson and Merriwa, as well as State MPs' offices, and people can donate books that will then be sanitised before being placed in the boxes.
Andrea Folkard from Rotary explains that the literacy program encourages reading, particularly among young children.
"They don't have to be new, second-hand books are fantastic," says Mrs Folkard, who adds that Rotary hopes the initiative will eventually spread to more businesses, including cafes, and even sports clubs.
Rotarian Brian Butterworth said COVID-19 restrictions meant that, rather than a book swap, the initiative would encourage children to take free books from the boxes to keep and read at home.
"We wanted to put boxes in places throughout the community that would make books more accessible to children, as many youngsters don't get access to reading material," he explains.
The project also has benefits to the seniors involved, explains RAAFA General Manager Sandy Komen.
"Making the red boxes is great for our residents' mental health and really gives them a sense of purpose," she says. "Our seniors use the workshop space to work and socialise in lieu of their own garden sheds, and they very much enjoy spending time there."