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By Samantha Gamez

United Way of the Brazos Valley held their annual Day of Action on June 21 at St. Joseph Catholic Church Activity Center. More than 125 volunteers stuffed 3,000 yellow and orange bags with books, baby teethers, and pamphlets in just over an hour, faster than last year’s inaugural event. The bags, called baby bundles, will be given to hospitals across Brazos County to distribute to each baby born within the next year.

Two out of three children living in poverty do not have books at home. UWBV wanted to combat this by ensuring each child had a book at home regardless of their background, says Alison Prince, president and CEO of UWBV. In an effort to reach every child in Brazos County, UWBV decided to provide each newborn baby with a book the day after its birth. “Every child should have a book in their home by the time they are one year old,” says Prince. They have committed to making sure that 20,000 babies receive books by 2020 as part of their Regional 2020 Bold Goals.

“We’re trying to build a culture of parents reading to kids,” says Prince. By providing at least one book to every newborn child, parents can begin introducing books to their children as soon as they get home from the hospital.

Community members from Bryan College Station came together and assembled enough baby bundles to distribute to the newborn babies of Brazos County for the next year. The room was divided into 10 stations where 10-15 volunteers assembled bags. Some volunteers put pamphlets into envelopes while others put the items into the bags. The assembly line made the work easy and quick, and volunteers chatted and laughed as they put the bundles together.

Volunteers arrived early to help label books and began assembling the bags before the designated 9:30am start time. By 10:15am, two stations had completed their bags and joined the remaining tables to speed the process along. “The volunteers are amazing,” says Prince. All of the bags were finished shortly after 10:30am, about an hour before the expected finish time.

The baby bundles could not be made without the support of this year’s Title Sponsors Women United and The Dansby Grant Foundation. Other sponsors include Wells Fargo Bank, ALDI, Bryan Independent School District, CHI St. Joseph Regional Health System, Project Unity, HEB, and Lock n Roll Storage. Their donations, combined with the efforts of the volunteers, have helped in UWBV’s fight for early literacy for all children.

United Way of the Brazos Valley fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in the Brazos Valley. They strengthen the community by identifying the community’s greatest issues, engaging individuals to build strategies and investing for change. United Way invests through Community Impact Grants to local nonprofit organizations and Investment Initiatives including 2-1-1 Texas, Youth Leadership Cabinet, VolunteerBrazosValley.org and the Financial Stability Innovation Fund and impacts over 60,000 people per year. To support the work of United Way of the Brazos Valley and learn more about how you can become involved, visit www.uwbv.org