Donors to the Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive will provide a book, read and travel to imaginary destinations for Maui Economic Opportunity Head Start preschoolers and their families, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet and give holiday gifts.
The public has until Dec. 9 to donate to the book drive at Barnes & Noble in the Maui Marketplace in Kahului. MEO’s Head Start was selected as this year’s winner.
Head Start provides free preschool to low-income families on Maui and Moloka’i. Homeless children, children in foster care and part of families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are given priority.
The purpose of Head Start is to prepare 3 and 4 year olds for kindergarten while working with the whole family. Case managers connect families to community support services, and parents are involved in their children’s education by sitting on policy boards.
Head Start is the first program started by MEO 57 years ago and is funded to help 209 children.
MEO Head Start Assistant Director, Alex Domingo, who reads to children during store stories, said keiki really like picture books and pointed out that Barnes & Noble has books next to the book of their choice.
So far, more than 1,000 books have been collected for this year’s goal of 1,750 books.
“When adults read to young keiki, we are helping to develop their listening, comprehension, language and vocabulary skills, and many other things, in addition to building a very important bond and connection,” said Domingo. “Books take keiki on special journeys, and can open up a wonderful world to them.”
He thanked Barnes & Noble for choosing MEO as a sponsor of the Holiday Book Drive and encouraged the community to “make a difference in a cake’s life during the holidays.”
Amanda Atlan, Lead Bookseller for Barnes & Noble in Kahului, said the Maui team chose MEO Head Start as the host for this year’s Holiday Book Drive. MEO Head Start has been selected several times in the past, he added.
“Our booksellers have worked with Alex Domingo for many years for our keiki story time and are honored to help him spread joy to keiki and their families,” said Atlan. “We are grateful for this opportunity to serve our community as all the books will be given to keiki on Maui.
“Join us in spreading aloha by giving the gift of reading this holiday season.”
For more information about MEO Head Start, call (808) 249-2988.