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First Book-Eau Claire to Distribute Books

RELEASED: Nov. 24, 2008

First Book logoEAU CLAIRE — First Book-Eau Claire, a college advisory board affiliate at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will help Christmas come early for children involved in a number of programs in the Eau Claire area this year.

Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt made 50,000 "The Polar Express" gift sets available to programs serving children in need nationwide through the nonprofit First Book. Locally, Altoona Head Start, Truax Head Start, Eau Claire Area School District Head Starts, the Family Literacy Center, the Reading Partners program and the Building Bridges program will distribute gift sets they received from a First Book-Eau Claire special distribution.

The Building Bridges program — a partnership of UW-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association that brings together student mentors and Hmong students who are new to the United States — will host an activities night at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at HMAA. Volunteers will read "The Polar Express" and explain the importance of literacy. The children will receive a "The Polar Express" gift set and three additional books.

"The children in the program had fun and were excited to choose their books," said Building Bridges coordinator Kia Lee. "It took them 45 minutes to look over the books and choose which ones they would like to own. They are looking forward to the activity night when they will receive their books. I am glad our community has a First Book advisory board that raises money so children who may not otherwise be able to can own their own new books."

Since 2005, First Book-Eau Claire has distributed more than 10,000 books to local programs serving low-income children, said Don Mowry, director of UW-Eau Claire's Center for Service-Learning and chair of the First Book-Eau Claire advisory board. Books have been distributed through organizations such as Western Dairyland Head Start, the Eau Claire Area School District's Reading Partner Program, Bolton Refuge House, Interfaith Hospitality-Beacon House, the Building Bridges program and Literacy Volunteers of the Chippewa Valley.

For details about the Building Bridges program, contact Lee at 715-832-8420 or bb.ecahmaa@charternet.com. For details about First Book-Eau Claire, contact First Book-Eau Claire advisory board leader Susie Schuelke at 715-836-5283 or schuelsl@uwec.edu.

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SS/NW

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