K-Ready Kids connects the community to children

1,100 backpacks filed with books and supplies distributed to pre-K children in the Greater Seacoast

He was a Project Manager for Software Implementation at Harvard University. And a Director of Prospect Research and

Advancement Services at Suffolk University. He is currently the Assistant Vice President of Organizational Operations for United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. His day-to-day routine is typically consumed with contract negotiations, insurance evaluation, budget management and Web-based technology solutions.

But today, Jack Rotondi is testing backpack zippers.

Jack unwraps a blazing red backpack, strips off the plastic and methodically works the metal teeth, ensuring that everything zips and unzips properly, then tosses the bag into a growing pile. Backpack quality control can be murder on the cuticles, but when it comes to giving young children the gift of reading, no job is too small.

It was the second annual K-Ready Kids literacy event and Jack was joining 115 other volunteers to devote a morning and some light manual labor to a simple, but powerful cause: promoting a love of reading to the youngest generation. K-Ready Kids, powered by United Way of the behalf 1,100 pre-K children who were set to receive backpacks filled with books, supplies and parent resources

“I had a lot of fun meeting new people, both staff and volunteers for the community,” said Jack. “We laughed and worked hard, knowing that there are a lot of kids who may not even have a book in their home. To be able to give them an opportunity to read and have some adventures and give parents tools is incredibly rewarding,”

In all, 39 agencies from Rockingham and Strafford Counties in New Hampshire and Kittery and Eliot, Maine received shipments of backpacks. Agencies included child care centers, Head Starts and a variety of community service organizations. Twenty-six companies sent volunteers to sort and distribute at the Seacoast Media Group headquarters in Pease, where the event has taken place each of its three years.

“School readiness is a crucial component in United Way’s work,” said Cindy Boyd, Managing Director of United Way of the Greater Seacoast. “K-Ready Kids is our way to bring the community together to support a great cause.”

Thank you to our K-Ready Kids champions: Long Term Partners, Well Sense, Liberty Mutual, Exeter Hospital, D.F. Richard, Kennebunk Savings, John Hancock, Lonza, Internet Essentials and Heinemann.

View photos from the event on the UWGS Facebook page!