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Gulf & Main Magazine

Summer Reading Program Enriched by Local Organizations' Donations

May 22, 2018 09:50AM ● By Kevin

Members of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South teamed with representatives from the Friends of the Fort Myers Library to present a check to the Lee County Library System’s Summer Reading Program on Monday, April 30. Pictured, from left, are Jessica Reed, Hannah Manibo, Linda Yorde, Nancy Petralia, Helena Nesbit, Ellen Ballard, Steve Wassman and Greg Blurton. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South.

The Rotary Club of Fort Myers South has teamed with the Friends of Lee County Libraries to give to the Lee County Library System's Summer Reading Program. Representatives from Rotary and the Friends presented a $5,145.30 check to the library system during a luncheon on Monday, April 30, according to a recent press release.

“Promoting youth literacy is at the core of our Rotary Club mission,” Steve Wassman said in the release. “Our goal is to get books into the hands of any person age 2 to 18 in Lee County who wants one.”

Wassman was in charge of organizing the donation for the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South. The organization has more than 140 members who are among the 1.3 million Rotarians worldwide. Service Above Self is the motto of Rotary International, which has contributed more than $1.2 billion and tens of thousands of volunteer hours toward polio eradication in addition to projects such as water quality, world peace and literacy.

The library system gives out a free book to every child who expresses interest in the program, while supplies last. In 2017, 10,000 children took part in the program, but the library only had 8,500 books to give, the release said. "Rotary and the Friends are committed to making sure that shortfall doesn’t happen again."

Rotary collected money for the program from fundraising events throughout the year, according to the release. Events included the Law and Order Ball and the club’s annual All-Star Classic football game. The Friends put together a book fair at Barnes & Noble and applied for a grant to help fund their contribution.

Each branch of Lee County Library System has a Friends group supported by memberships and donations. Friends raise money to enhance the services and programming at the local branch, donate to building programs, sponsor ComicFest, support the Summer Reading Program, contribute to the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, and offer programming of their own for adults. Friends library programs are free to the public.

The library’s program, which runs May 29 through Aug. 11, is designed to foster literacy skills and develop a love of reading. A series of interactive, kid-focused events are planned, such as reptile shows, science demonstrations and cooking classes. All are geared toward sparking creativity and an interest in reading to learn more.