Simplicity’s Student Planner

student-agenda-cover

“The assignment is due when? Today??”

We’ve all been there at some point. Somehow, that assignment due date just slipped right up on us without our noticing. That is why organizational skills are so important to school performance.

Using a planner is the key to time management!

Students are doing more than ever before-taking multiple classes, completing homework, preparing for projects, studying for tests, participating in afterschool activities, playing sports, and attending family and other social events. With so much to juggle, it is important for students to have a planner that works for them. Planners help students track and organize all their to do’s including their homework, tests, projects, and other events. Planners reduce stress, increase productivity, and prevent students from feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to invest in a planner that fit’s your child’s needs.

Tips for Using a Planner

  1. Pick the right planner. Take your time when choosing a pocket planner. Find one that fits inside a special pocket or pouch in your book bag if you can. Avoid planners with locks or zippers that will only annoy you. Little things like that will become a hassle and create bad habits.
  2. Put your name on your planner. At some point throughout the school year-most students misplace their planner. Take 30 seconds to put your name and phone number or email on your planner-just in case!
  3. Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.
  4. Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you’re still in the classroom. Don’t put it off!
  5. Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.
  6. Use a color-coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.

Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a date or a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you

  1. don’t put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.
  2. Use flags. You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.
  3. Don’t discard old pages. You will always have important information in your planner that you’ll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you’ll want to remember those things later on.
  4. Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time. On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement.

Things to Include in Your Planner

It is important to block off anything that consumes your time, in order to avoid conflict and crisis. Don’t forget:

  • Homework
  • Test, Quizzes and Papers
  • Holidays
  • Sports/Activities

If your child has lost their planner or has a planner that doesn’t seem to be working efficiently, consider using one of Simplicity’s student planners!

Simplicity’s planner includes:

  • A laminated, durable cover
  • 3 hole punched
  • Monthly calendars
  • A tab that divides the weekly calendars
  • Ample room to record assignments and projects
  • A special section to write announcements, reminders, and notes

To purchase a Simplicity Student Planner please email info@simplicity-organizers.com


Happy Parents & Thriving Kids

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Simplicity is excited to be a part of a parenting summit called Happy Parents & Thriving Kids. We are a panel of trusted experts who will address important issues like:

· Putting together routines that work for your family

· Helping kids make healthy choices…yes, that means food

· How to manage technology and social media

· What anxiety looks like in a young child

· Self-care for parents

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What you’ll get: You’ll be able to access great on-line interviews with experts starting September 14th.

The content will be available to you for one week only. SO DON’T WAIT!


The Playroom: Where Fun Meets Function

Less is More.  This is a good lesson for children to learn early in life.  And toys are a great place to start.

Playroom

An organized play space is a functional and attractive alternative to the chaos that reigns in many homes.  If a dedicated playroom isn’t available, a corner of the family room, bedroom or kitchen can be a good substitute. For toddlers and young preschoolers, the more visible and central the location, the better.

Regardless of where playthings call home, avoid having more toys than space permits.  If you’ve already exceeded your limit, purge now, before the birthday party or holiday gift-giving season approaches.  If you’re at comfortable capacity, adopt the “one in-one out” rule to avoid overload.  Make sure your child has in mind which toy from home is going to leave before a new one is purchased.

Weed out age inappropriate toys.  For toys your child has outgrown, contain and label for younger/future siblings, share with friends, or donate to charity. Overly advanced games and toys will be frustrating. Store them until the appropriate time – and if that time is years away, consider letting them go.  Purge anything that is broken or missing pieces or that your child no longer enjoys.  If you have the luxury of additional storage space in your home, consider a toy rotation.  Keep only a portion of the age appropriate toys in circulation at one time.  Every few weeks, stash a portion of what’s in play, and substitute a few items from storage.  Make sure the toys that are being stored are clearly labeled and are very accessible.  This is almost as good as a trip to the toy store!

Establish activity centers. While the floor is great for blocks, Legos, and train sets, you’ll need a table and chairs for puzzles, crafts, and doll tea parties.  Don’t skimp on containers or chaos will be back in spades. Open shelves and lidded clear plastic containers are a good choice.  Ziplock bags work well for individual puzzles or games with many small pieces.  Avoid large baskets and bins, which quickly become catch-alls for unrelated toys.

If your children are old enough, allow them to be involved in the process.  Label containers or shelves so everyone will know what belongs where.  Printed word labels are appropriate for older children, while picture labels for younger ones will facilitate cleanup. If your child is learning another language, bilingual labeling is a good way to reinforce foreign vocabulary.

To summarize:

Designate a play space with several activity centers.

Ensure toys are age and space-appropriate.

Contain and label.

Fun meets function!

Looking for inspiration to declutter and serve the community?

This year, Simplicity Organizers are teaming up with Augustine Literacy Project and Freedom School Partners, to host their annual book drive in the month of May. We are encouraging the community to donate gently used children’s books (Grades K-5) to the Read a Book, Give a Book celebration. This year we will donate the books to Montclair and Rama Road Elementary schools in hopes that every single student will be able to take home several books to read over the summer! Please email us to find drop off location in your area.

Charity sites that accept toys and school supplies:


Read a Book, Give a Book Celebration

Read a Book, Give a Book

 

2016 READ a Book, GIVE a Book Celebration!

Reading is a life skill and it is unfortunate that during the summer months, many students lose valuable literacy skills when they stop reading during their break from school. Summer reading loss negatively impacts our struggling readers, and ultimately our entire community. Children who do not have access to books or adults who can read to them are especially susceptible to falling behind over the summer.
As a result, by the end of fifth grade, these students are approximately 2.5 years behind their peers in terms of reading ability.

This year Simplicity hosted their annual book drive with Augustine Literacy Project and Freedom School Partners in the month of May. A huge thank you to the Charlotte community for donating gently used children’s books to our Read a Book-Give a Book celebration. This year we donated 6,465 books to Montclaire and Rama Road elementary schools so every student will take home several books to read over the summer! A special thanks to Promising Pages for collecting 2,600 books!

 


Simplicity for Young Adults

You’ve heard the phrase “Start ‘em young!” Well that definitely applies to organizing.  Growing up, did anyone help teach you how to create and maintain organizational systems? Maybe it was your mother who showed you her meticulous methods or a teacher who demonstrated how to be tidy. Whatever the source, it is ideal for the origins of organization to begin in childhood when individuals are thrust into new responsibility and routines.  Since organizing does not come naturally to everyone, many need to be taught these important life skills, especially young adults who are venturing off on their own.

Here are some basic pointers for those just starting to structure their organizational success as an adult:

  • Create a paper or electronic system: Stacks of paper or rows of emails can accumulate quickly.  It is important to establish a folder or file system for all of your documents.

Simplicity for Young Adults

 

  • Carve out time to de-clutter: Set aside a day per week, either after work or on a weekend to maintain your systems. Put away dishes or hang your clothes.  Sort your mail and file papers.  Donate, toss, shred, or recycle what you no longer need.   Update your weekly calendar.  Remember it is much easier to keep up than start over. Maintenance is key to organizational success.

ical

  • Make lists and use calendars: DO NOT RELY on your young brain to remember everything!  Use one calendar to record all of your appointments. Write down your to do lists and plan your week accordingly.

 

Simplicity for Young Adults

  •  REMEMBER: There isn’t one right way to be organized. Systems can change and be altered with time and necessity. What matters is that they work for you –bringing order, structure, and simplicity to your life.

Benefits of Organization for Children with Disabilities

As many of us know, organizing has many benefits. It can recharge us, motivate us, relieve us, and simplify us.  Adults can acknowledge these rewards and understand their power. However, children may need guidance to that insight, especially children who have disabilities. And we believe organization is crucial for children with disabilities.

Structure, by definition, is anything composed of parts, arranged in someway; an organization. Without structure, all that remains are individual parts; disorganization. Children with disabilities thrive in environments with intentional structure.  It allows them to follow through with basic tasks without having to process the “how” every time.

The key to a successful learning environment is structure.” Cara Carroll, teacher

Many teachers rely on routines and procedures to maintain classroom management by creating systems to help students function and gain independence. Repetition is one of the most effective techniques in special education. Organization is, in essence, a habitat for repetition.

Creating an accessible system within a bedroom, pantry, bathroom, playroom, or homework station for children with disabilities can aid in the successful flow of routines. Children with disabilities sometimes miss steps because they can’t find what they need. Organization and systems reduce that anxiety and uncertainty. Using clear storage containers and labels provide accessibility and minimize confusion. Knowing that everything has a place is a valuable tool to use with all children and promotes responsibility and accountability.

By including children with disabilities in the creation and maintenance of organization, it fosters independence, boosts confidence, and empowers them to understand that they are capable. For most parents, guardians, and friends of individuals with disabilities, removing the barriers to functionality is a main goal, thus attaining the greatest possible growth.

Simplicity Kids RewardVideo Game Controller

 

Above is an example of a chart that children can use to monitor their progress when working toward a particular goal. In this scenario, the child’s reward/goal was to play a videogame. After completing the four desired tasks, crossing out one letter for each, they’ve reached their goal. The chart is an active reminder of what they are working for!

Below are some basic techniques that can be extremely helpful when organizing kids with disabilities:Use a schedule. Create a plan for the day, including time of day. This will help develop routines while decreasing urgency. Time is a difficult concept for children with disabilities to understand, so representing time in the form of a list is a sequential, straightforward way of demonstrating expectation.

  • Class ScheduleAllow for choices! Most education and parenting guides encourage the use of choices with children with disabilities. But be thoughtful about the amount of choices. Children with disabilities can often be overwhelmed with too many options and become even more stressed.

 

Velcro Schedule

  • Lessen the amount of distractions in bedrooms, pantries or homework stations by designating areas, limiting what is at eye level to just important everyday items and using word labels or pictures.
  • Use visuals, such as labels with words or pictures. Matching is an essential skill that reduces error. Labels provide a quick reference and make sorting easier, a task that is often challenging for children with disabilities. Once visuals/labels are a part of the home routine, they can be used to aid other tasks such as chores.  For example, familiar labels on drawers and cabinets can be used for unloading the dishwasher.

 

 

 

Days of the weekAlways remember… “Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time [and money] and improving your overall quality of life.” Christina Scalise, author “Organize Your Life and More”


Ants, Raisins & Coins – Oh My!

By Laurie Martin

Clean Kidz

Due to my struggles with infertility, I was the last of my friends to have a child.  However, I did uncover one benefit: hand-me-downs.  I cannot fully express my gratitude for all the burp cloths, onesies, clothes, bibs and toys that have been passed down to me over the past few years.  I am grateful for these recycled gifts because I secretly have a hard time justifying spending money on items my child will quickly outgrow.  Gently used clothing and toys not only saved me money, but also a lot of time.

Carson Tate, the owner of Working Simply called me soon after my daughter was born and asked me if I wanted her daughter’s Britax car seat.  Carson was having a hard time finding a place willing to accept the carseat as a donation, so instead of throwing it away, she thought of me. And of course, I was thrilled.  She was relieved it was going to a good home and I was excited I didn’t have to buy a brand new car seat!

My daughter still used an infant bucket seat because she was not big enough for the Britax car seat, so I stored the car seat in my garage for the next few months.  When she was ready, my husband set about the installation process.  That process soon came to a screeching halt when he saw what was behind the seat cushions.  After glancing at some unidentifiable objects, he made one suggestion: get a new seat.

In the days following, I happened to drive past a company called Clean Kidz on my way home.  Right away I noticed that Clean Kidz cleans strollers and car seats.

I googled Clean Kidz contacted the company, and introduced myself to Lee Phillips, one of the owners.

Clean K-1

I told him the situation and he said,  “No problem.”  Just a few days later, he was in my driveway, ready to clean!

Who would have guessed what we found inside a seat that looked perfectly normal on the outside.

Clean K-2

But once the covers were removed, lots of hidden and unidentifiable objects began to be revealed. Including raisins, bugs, and pocket change.

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5 Simple Steps in the Clean Kidz Process!

 

Step 1-Remove the cover and shake all the contents out of the seat.

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Clean K-5

Step 2-Set up the cleaning station!

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Step 3-Use an industrial steam cleaner to wash the seat, the cushion, the straps, and don’t forget-the buckle!

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Step 4-Finish cleaning the skeleton of the seat

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Step 5-Check out the transformation!

                                                      BEFORE:

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                                                      AFTER:

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The seat cleaning service did not end here!  Lee also taught me how to install the new clean seat!

Clean K-11

 

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It was a great day.  I recycled. I reused. And I supported a local business.

Now, I am using Clean Kidz to clean my stroller and car seat every 6 months.  You never know what finds its way into such a small space.

Clean K-13

A special thanks to Carson Tate for letting me tell this story and for Clean Kidz for a shiny,clean car seat!


Clear the Clutter & Chaos

LITTLE ONES

There is an ancient Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Organizing your entire house might seem as challenging as a thousand miles on foot, but with a decision to change, a vision, and a solid plan you’ll be on your way!

1.  Recognize when you are ready – it’s a choice.

Living a more simplified life starts by acknowledging its time for change.  If you have hit rock bottom with the clutter and chaos in your home and life, your first step to making a change to change.

2.  Be prepared. Be patient. Be smart.

Before you begin the paring down and de-cluttering process in your home, be prepared to face emotional obstacles.  Be patient with yourself on items that stir up memories, but be smart and don’t start with them.  If you aren’t ready to face your memorabilia, but your kitchen is easy – start there.  Remember success breeds success.

3.  Be realistic.

Stacks, piles, and over-crowded areas of your home didn’t happen overnight and it won’t all go away overnight.  Estimate how long you think an area will take and then time yourself.  This will help you gauge future projects so you know how much time to schedule for yourself to start and finish an area of your home.   Know going in, MOST projects are going to take much longer than you think!

4.  Avoid Calendar Clutter.

There is a major external clutter in all our lives – our overcrowded calendars!

A lot of the clutter in your home and life can most likely be attributed to not leaving any time in your daily schedule for regular home organization maintenance. Set clear boundaries for yourself and your family in the new year to allow for more time to maintain the spaces.

5.  Set weekly/monthly goals & appointments.

THIS IS KEY!  With more time on your calendar to devote to your simplification process you will be need to hold yourself accountable to organizing your own life. Consider lining up donation pick-ups ahead of time so you have the extra motivation of a deadline.

6. Hold off on supplies.

Discovering what organizational supplies you will need is one of the last steps in the process.  Save money and time by waiting until you know what you need.   Unnecessary supplies can add to your frustration.  Consider getting creative when using items you already have in your home to help you organize.

7.  Maintenance – Routines are key.

Organizing is an on-going journey with a “Clutter Back Guarantee”.  If you don’t work to maintain your spaces(s), the clutter will come back.  Build in regular times to purge throughout the year:  before and after holidays, birthdays and seasons are easy times of the year to make a pass of areas in your home.

8.  Know when to ask for help. 

If you become overwhelmed or do not feel like you are making much progress, call in a family member, friend or a professional for help.

BEFORE: 

BEFORE PLAYROOM

AFTER: 

Playroom-After

Here’s a list of possibilities to spark your enthusiasm, focus on completing one area each month:

January:  Desk/Home Office: Organize your finances before tax season officially begins.

February:  Mudroom/Laundry Room: Start by pulling everything out. Decide what you are actually using in this space.

March:  Clothing closets: Switch out your mismatch hangers to uniform hangers.  As you swap hangers, decide if that article of clothing is really worth keeping.

April:  Technology: Dedicate 15 minutes a day to purging old photos and emails.

May:  Bathrooms: Use non-slip drawer dividers to keep like items together in bathroom drawers.

June:  Photos/Memorabilia: Organize your photos by year or event. It’s time to chose the best masterpieces from the year and let the rest go.

July:  Playroom: Work with your children to pare down and identify what they truly love and use.

August: Cabinets and Drawers: Use labels!  Labels hold everyone in the family accountable to putting things away where they belong.

September: Garage: Set aside a full day.  Divide items into 3 categories: Keep, Trash, Donate.

October:  Kitchen: Clean out the old and expired items since the holidays are around the corner.

November:  Attic/ Basement: Add shelving to create vertical space.

December:  Bedrooms: Create a reading nook.  Bedrooms should be a place that represents rest and calm.

BEFORE:

BeFORE CLOSET

 AFTER:

AFTER CLOSET

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Looking for that perfect Holiday gift? Look no further!

 

Give the gift of time and organization this year with a Simplicity gift certificate

Present

Don’t forget that if you book Simplicity services now through the December 19th you receive 15% off! Not including organizational supplies. Email Simplicity to set up your appointment today!

Purchase a Stylist’s Opinion from Whitley Hamlin of the Queen City Style

The Queen City Style

Not sure what to give your Sister In Law for Christmas?  For $75, our fave stylist Whitley Hamlin of the Queen City Style will send you images for 25 items.  You tell her you need a dress, you get 25 dress selections.  You tell her you need three outfits for an upcoming wedding weekend, you get four outfits head to toe…whatever the case may be, Whitley will send images for the very coolest and most unique items on the market. Just like that.  The Queen City Style loves helping others look and feel their best, and is excited to offer this opportunity that is attainable to everyone.


Back To School Organizing Party

 

Back to School Organizing Party

 

What better way to start the school year than with an ORGANIZING PARTY!

This year Simplicity hosted their 3rd annual Back to School Organizing Party for the 6th grade girls at Trinity Episcopal School.

It is the perfect time for classmates to catch up on life, meet new friends, and learn new organizing strategies before school begins!

From recognizing the benefits of getting organized, to creating a morning routine, to learning how to utilize a planner and organizing a backpack – the basics of school organization were covered!

 

 

ICEBREAKER

BTS-1 Icebreaker-1

Getting to know each other!

BENEFITS OF GETTING ORGANIZED

Brainstorming

Brainstorming time!

LEARNING TO CREATE A MORNING ROUTINE!

Morning Routine

GET TO SCHOOL ON TIME!

BTS-4 Get to School

BTS-5-Get to School

ORGANIZING BACKPACKS

BTS-6 Backpack1

BTS-7 Backpack2

AND LOCKERS

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BTS-9 Locker2

Simplicity’s Top 10 Study Tips

BTS-10 Study Tips

  1. Create a designated study space-where there are few distractions.
  2. Make sure you have all the school supplies you need in one area.
  3. Use drawer dividers-to help keep your space organized.
  4. Determine your best study time-when you are most productive and focused.
  5. Take a 5 minute break every 30 minutes.
  6. Keep the top of your desk clear-so you have less distractions and more space to spread out.
  7. Avoid time wasters (internet, phone, tv, video games)
  8. Keep a master calendar to view the big picture of all your commitments, events, and projects.
  9. If you feel like you don’t have enough downtime in your schedule, cut back on some of your commitments.
  10. Pack your backpack and lunch the night before to avoid a rush in the morning.

To encourage these students to take some of Simplicity’s organizing tips and apply them in their own home, Simplicity held a contest. The winner of the contest had to answer questions and take pictures or video of their space.

Congratulations to Millie Saydlowski for winning the Simplicity Kids organizing contest!

Remember organizing is often a learned skill.  If you are interested in learning more organization for you or your child, consider attending our Fletcher Parent Workshop or contact Simplicity directly.

Back to school organizing party contest


Simplicity Serves: 7,680 Books and the Love of Reading!

 

Reading Tree

In March, I received an email from my mom, a reading specialist at a Title 1 school in Greensboro, letting me know about a request from the NC Department of Instruction asking communities to donate five gently used or new books to Title 1 schools.

Reading is a life skill and it is unfortunate that during the summer months, many students lose valuable literacy skills when they stop reading during their break from school.

According to the NC Department of Instruction, children from low-income families fall behind over the summer because they often go home to an environment where there are very few books or other reading resources. As a result, by the end of fifth grade, these students are approximately 2 ½ years behind their more affluent peers in terms of reading ability, primarily because of summer loss.  Summer reading loss negatively impacts our struggling readers, and ultimately our entire community.

I knew immediately this would be a perfect initiative for Simplicity!

I presented the idea of a book drive at our monthly team meeting and it was received with great excitement. We brainstormed ways to help spread the word about this promotion and set a goal to collect 1,000 books.  As we help our clients purge and organize their homes, large quantities of unwanted items accumulate, including children’s books.  Our clients have a much easier time letting go of their belongings when they know they are going to a deserving cause.

Since my mom’s birthday was a few weeks away, I contacted her school, Vandalia Elementary, and asked the principal her thoughts about throwing a surprise reading celebration-to not only celebrate my mom’s birthday and her 17 years of teaching reading, but more importantly to celebrate the joy of reading by giving each student a book.  Vandalia was thrilled with the idea and so our book drive began!

Shortly after, WCNC asked us to join Colleen Odegaard and Ramona Holloway to promote organizing tips for children and share the news about our book drive.

WCNC

As we began to promote the book collection, Alison Houser with Augustine Literacy Project contacted us to see if they could help.   She asked if we had chosen a school in the Charlotte area to receive the books.  I shared with her about our surprise donation to Vandalia with the first 1,000 books, but anything after that could be donated to another school in Charlotte.

Alison had just been in a meeting with Sedgefield Elementary and the principal said they were looking for help from the community to provide each child with five books to take home for the summer.   So it was an easy decision to donate any extra books to Sedgefield.

For convenience, several of my team members offered their homes as drop off locations throughout the city. Word spread quickly and the books began arriving.  It was the perfect time to clean off bookshelves before summer started.

Soon after we were invited to join John Carter on WBTV!

And the books kept coming!

Augustine Literacy volunteers helped us sort over a thousand books by grade level.

On April 9th, I drove with 1,ooo books to Greensboro to surprise my mom,

Surprising Mom

and share with the students at Vandalia. The celebration included a presentation, a read aloud, balloons, and cake.

Vandalia Book Celebration

With the support of other Greensboro community members and friends, 1,680 books were donated to Vandalia, allowing each child to take home 6 books for the summer.

Laurie reading

Laurie's Mom w Books

 

Vandalia Kids w books

 Reading Celebration

On June 10th, it was time to celebrate reading at Sedgefield Elementary! Thanks to the support of the Charlotte community, we were a part of the book drive that collected over 6,000 books for Sedgefield!

Sedgefield Elementary Celebration

Sonja Grant, a lead anchor on WCNC TV offered the closing remarks to the student body.

Sonia Grant speaking

What an incredible journey of collecting books!  Our original goal was to collect 1,000 children’s books, but with such wonderful support from both the Charlotte and Greensboro communities, we were able to help collect almost 8,000 books for two Title 1 schools!

As your children grow as readers, and the new school year is beginning, please consider making more room on your bookshelves by donating any lower level children’s books to Title 1 schools.  With your generous donations, we can help prevent summer reading loss.

Reading is such a critical life skill! Let’s continue to support this initiative and share our love of reading!

Elementary Kids with donated books

Special Thanks:

Alison Houser and Laura Freeman, Augustine Literacy Project

Kimberly Robertson and Dawn Amundson, Vandalia Elementary

Ivy Gill and Sophia Crawford, Sedgefield Elementary 

Ramona Holloway, Colleen Odegaard, Larry Sprinkle, and Sonja Gantt, WCNC TV

Brennan Shearer, Promising Pages

Crystal O’Gorman, Freelance writer for the Charlotte Observer

NC Department of Instruction

Simplicity Clients and the Charlotte Community