Alton Memorial receives Books for Newborns’ 10,000th book bag

November 16, 2020
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Books for Newborns, a local all-volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 2017 that provides book bags to low-income new mothers and children at no cost, just delivered its 10,000th book bag.

In its first three years and nine months, the charity has delivered more than 41,000 books valued at more than $390,000 to economically challenged children across the St. Louis metro area.

Ella Curry, an 11-year old receiving outpatient therapy at Alton Memorial Hospital, was the lucky girl who received the 10,000th book bag on Oct. 29. To mark the occasion, Curry also received an autographed copy of local author Ed Wheatley’s “Incredible Cardinals” children’s book and an Usborne Books & More mini-reading library.

Books for Newborns has been delivering book bags to mothers of newborns at Alton Memorial Hospital through a program funded by Ameren Illinois since June. It just expanded its services to reach more than 40 children the hospital provides care to on an outpatient basis each month. This expansion and similar programs aimed at older children across the region have been made possible through books donated by fellow literacy organizations Ready Readers and Missouri Humanities.

“When we set out, we never imagined we would have delivered 10,000 book bags this quickly,” said Richard Nix, Sr., Founder and Vice Chairman of Books for Newborns. “It is gratifying for all our volunteers and donors to see 10,000 kids start down the path to literacy and to know that our rapid growth will launch 6,000 more kids down that path next year. Literacy is the foundation for success in school and in life. And it presents our best hope for breaking the cycle of poverty and all that goes with it in years to come.”

“Our partnership with the Books for Newborns organization has been a great compliment to our local reading initiatives with the Alton School District as well as the effort by BJC HealthCare to provide a book each summer to all second graders in the St. Louis Metropolitan area,” said Rusty Ingram, AMH director of Business Development. “The book bags have been such a hit with parents of newborns, and we are thrilled to be able to expand the program to include children who come for therapy. The ability to succeed really begins with the ability to read.”

“Despite the pandemic, 2020 has been a year of tremendous growth,” said Mike Hogan, chairman of Books for Newborns. “In just seven months of actual operations we’ve delivered more book bags than in all of 2019. We are pleased to have added Alton Memorial to our delivery partners network, joining SSM Health’s St. Mary’s and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospitals, Sweet Babies, BJC HealthCare’s Barnes Hospital and Children’s Hospital locations, and nearly a dozen social service agencies.

“The downtime enabled us to build important collaborations with St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, Ready Readers, the Read from the Start program at Missouri Humanities, all of Ronald McDonald House’s local facilities, the migrant reading programs at both St. Louis Public and Diocesan schools and others who share our passion for children’s literacy. We’re stronger than ever because we are stronger together.” Hogan said.

“We believe that every child deserves a fair shot at a bright future,” Nix added. “Reading – and all that accompanies it – enhances their chances. Thanks to generous donors and the time and talents of all involved, this 100 percent volunteer effort which started with the delivery of one book bag promises to help teach thousands of children the joy of reading for years to come.”

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