Land O'Lakes donated books delight children

SPMA DrseussImagine a home with young children. Now, imagine what it’s like for them without children’s books at home. Nobody can read to them at bedtime. Nobody can help them point to pictures and identify new objects. A child without a book is like opening an empty box of chocolates. Without books, children have less joy and little to discover.

Living at home without age appropriate books is the experience of many American children living in poverty. One reputable study found that more than 60% of low-income homes did not have a single child’s book in the home.* Research also shows that when children are read out loud to, they learn to read faster – regardless of the language of the books or the language spoken at home.**

That’s why East Side Learning Center aims to give every student we tutor at least eight free books per year. We give away more than 2,400 books a year! We are eager to work with companies interested in hosting targeted book drives on our behalf.

In January, we were delighted to receive new books through the United Way. Land O’Lakes, Inc, purchased the books as a part of their United Way fundraising campaign.

“Our United Way Campaign is a great way for our employees to come together to benefit the community. We were fortunate to be able to donate more than 1,600 books to a great organization as part of our campaign,” commented AJ Graves, Community Relations Manager.

ESLC staff plan days for our children to choose books at their reading level. For example, the Dr. Seuss books were among selections available on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. At parent-teach conferences, staff discussed the importance of reading to their children at home. Then, every child in the family chose at least one age-appropriate book or series. Finally, each ESLC student chose two books at the end of the school year to reinforce summer reading and help prevent the summer slide. Thanks to this donation, we will also be giving away more books during our Summer Literacy Camps.

Dr Seuss Birthday SpmaMany children hugged their books. Others were excited to show friends and families. It was as if they had just opened a full box of chocolates, only we know the books are much better for them.

Land O’Lakes, Inc. Foundation Coordinator Taylor Coffin said the Community Relations department and the planning committee for the 2016 campaign wanted to reinforce the idea that each person CAN make a difference and influence change. They focused on positive impact and used rhyming in the campaign messages.

She said, “The books were a fun and light way to bring out employees’ inner children, while still impacting the community in a very tangible way.”

It seems donations of children’s books filled all of our boxes of chocolates.

About United Way Giving and ESLC

At ESLC, we have seen the impact of the Land O’Lakes and many other corporate United Way campaigns in more ways than book donations.

For the past 8 years ESLC has benefited as a grant recipient in the “Reading Before Third Grade” program, which was recently eliminated. The reason for the change is directly tied to how we give at the office. More people are designating gifts to specific charities, which means United Way has less for collective impact programs, such as early childhood literacy. 

When we give to the United Way general fund, the United Way combines our resources to increase the impact in our community. They work with smaller nonprofits that have similar impact goals, such as ESLC, to help us improve our programs.

Thank you, Land O’Lakes employees for this year’s book donation and for unlocking each children’s potential through the foundation of reading for years to come!

What can you do help? Organize a corporate book donation drive, volunteer and consider making a gift to ESLC.

JAJ UW Books



* Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University, March 2015. “A Science-Based Framework for Early Childhood Policy – using Evidence to Improve Outcomes in Learning, Behavior and Health for Vulnerable Children.

** Three Key Years: Talk – Read – Play – Sing To support & Help Every Child in American, George C. Halvorson, Institute for InterGroup Understanding, Copyright 2016 George C. Halvorson.