United Way’s Day of Action

Thanks to our guest blogger Tiffany Chen

Since the beginning of June, I’ve been an intern here at United Way. I’m a marketing major and a Spanish minor at the University of Connecticut. As a marketing intern, I had the opportunity to volunteer at two book fairs in Lynn, one that doubled as an event for United Way Worldwide’s national “Day of Action” efforts in support of education worldwide. At the Hood School, I helped live tweet some of the day’s activities which included a book giveaway and a visit from author Grace Lin. It was really fun and exciting to be a part of!

Growing up in Newton, MA, from what I remember, a book fair in elementary school meant having Scholastic come into our library, laying out all their products and me walking around looking for fun books to purchase. I remember always picking out the books with crafty activities. The friendship bracelet kits were the best!

However, attending two of the book fairs in Lynn a couple weeks ago gave me a whole new perspective. To the kids in Lynn, it meant showing up in the room or hallway bursting with excitement and lining up to receive a free book of their choice.

To some kids, not only is it a free book but possibly the only book they receive this summer or even the very first book they own. As a child I didn’t understand the importance of reading but being able to see the reactions of the kids made me realize that we are making a difference whether it is giving them the opportunity to pick out a book, helping them choose a book, reading with them or starting or adding to their library at home.

Each book a child reads could be a step closer in preventing the loss of reading skills during the summer. I know I would’ve loved this opportunity instead of purchasing a book of my choice. Who doesn’t love free stuff? As a college student, we are all about the free stuff.

Tiffany-Chen_blog-Lynn Book Fair

The best part of this opportunity was definitely engaging with the kids. I had a chance to walk into their classrooms to talk about the bookmark, summer activities calendar and ticket to the Navigators (a local baseball team) game that United Way was giving out. My favorite part about that short talk was asking them questions.

Hands would shoot up and the children were eager to get picked to answer the question or some would just shout it out. When some were called on, they had no idea what to say or how to answer. I thought that was the cutest thing. After engaging with the kids, I saw that elementary school is definitely a period where you learn all the basics. It was very interesting to interact a variety of kids ranging in their literacy skills, speaking skills and social skills.

I loved the kids. They were all so unpredictable yet they made my experience that much more fun and interesting. I feel honored to have had this opportunity, to be a part of United Way, in helping to make a difference for the children.