Hearts of Grace, the women’s network of Outreach Community Ministries, successfully launched Books for Birthdays at Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream (OCC) on January 13. Throughout the year, the Books for Birthdays project will provide every child in OCC’s elementary school program a new book, personalized birthday card, birthday bag and treats on his or her birthday. Toddlers at Jubilee Village, Outreach’s transitional housing for single, formerly homeless young mothers and their children, will also receive birthday gifts. In the first year of the program, every child will also receive a storybook Bible.
According to Bonnie Malcolm Chrisman, Outreach Community Ministries vice president of Resource Development, Books for Birthdays fulfills the Hearts of Grace mission of carrying out acts of service for the women and children nurtured through Outreach programs financially supported by Hearts of Grace.
“Studies show that a family’s socioeconomic status is linked to access to books and reading proficiency,” says Bonnie. “Without books at home, students cannot practice reading and lag behind their peers. Books for Birthdays directly addresses this need and reminds each child of their worth in God’s Kingdom.”
At the January event, six students selected a new, age-appropriate book of their choosing from a birthday cart donated and built by Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties. They were also thrilled to receive personalized gifts and fun surprises in their birthday bags like silly string, fuzzy mittens and bubble gum.
Barb Wisdom, Hearts of Grace Action Board member, said, “Seeing the smile on the kids’ faces as they picked out their new book was priceless! You could feel the energy in the room from the anticipation and excitement of the kids.”