Special to Iredell Free News
September is National Literacy Month, a time to encourage children to pick up a good book and explore new worlds. But many children in Iredell County live in a book desert, a geographic area with limited access to age-appropriate books. Without access to reading materials, children may come to school unprepared and are less likely to become lifelong readers.
And the last week of September (September 24 – October 2) is National Diaper Need Awareness Week. The week draws attention to the issue of diaper need, the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to keep an infant or child clean, dry and healthy. One in three families do not have access to a sufficient supply of diapers for their baby and government assistance programs like WIC and SNAP do not cover the cost of diapers for families with limited resources.
To address book deserts and diaper need, the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children (ICPYC) is hosting a Stock the Shelves in September challenge to collect gently used/new children’s books and unopened packs of diapers to support two local initiatives developed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Loads of Literacy and the Pampered Pantry.
Early in the pandemic, ICPYC teamed up with local laundromats to improve children’s access to books. The resulting literacy outreach project called Loads of Literacy provides reading nooks with laundry baskets full of used books in local laundry facilities that deliver basic needs in under-served communities.
The concept of community book nooks has grown since the inception of Loads of Literacy and ICPYC now also supports five community book nooks in addition to the seven laundry facilities. All books are provided by donation and restocked monthly. ICPYC needs a continuous supply of children’s books to maintain the reading nooks.
As COVID-19 continued, more families were finding themselves vulnerable and needing basic supplies.
“We received call after call from desperate parents in need of diapers,” said Program Director Lisa Pullis. In response to this growing need, ICPYC launched the Pampered Pantry, a diaper pantry, to help struggling families secure the basic need of clean, dry diapers for their children.
“Over 200 children have enrolled in the Pampered Pantry since July 1, and that number is growing daily,” said Pullis. “The widespread need is greater than anticipated and we need the community’s help in securing additional diapers for the pantry.”
September highlights book deserts and diaper need, both of which impact our local community, and presents an opportunity for community leaders, advocates, and individuals to get involved.
If you are interested in ensuring that our youngest citizens have access to books and clean diapers, giving them a stronger foundation and healthier start, ICPYC is collecting gently used/new children’s book and unopened packs of diapers at the following drop-off locations:
• Easter Seals UCP NC (619 Sullivan Road)
• ICPYC (734 Salisbury Road)
• Peak Eye Care (843 N Center Street)
• Randy Marion Chevrolet (601 Gaither Road)
• Randy Marion Ford Lincoln (1030 Gateway Crossing Drive)
• ICPYC (249 Williamson Road, Suite. 102)
• Randy Marion Chevrolet Buick Cadillac (220 W Plaza Drive)
• Keller Williams Realty (118 Morlake Drive)
The Iredell County Partnership for Young Children is a 501 (c)(3), nonprofit organization, dedicated to measurably increasing learning and healthy development of children birth to age five in Iredell County. ICPYC provides services focused on raising the quality of early care and education, supporting families, advancing child health, and expanding literacy. For more information, please call (704) 878-9980 or visit http://www.iredellsmartstart.org/. ICPYC is located at 734 Salisbury Road in Statesville, N.C.