New Traverse City Non-Profit Seeks to Inspire Early Childhood Literacy

A new non-profit wants every kid in Northern Michigan to have their own library.

Power Book Bags is making that happen by getting books in kids’ hands.

The organization has given away more than 1,200 books so far and only wants that number to grow.

“Each time they come back they get more books, more writing materials, more crayons,” Gregory explained. “And so we’re going to give them more and more literacy experiences, but also more of a library at home.”

Kara Gregory was inspired to start Power Book Bags after volunteering at the Salvation Army in Traverse City and seeing a bin with scrap materials for kids to draw on.

“In the middle of the night I woke up thinking, ‘We have to do more. We should be giving them books. And we shouldn’t just be giving them books. We should be giving them writing materials.’”

That vision is now a full-fledged non-profit.

People donate books, help sew personal bags for kids and put everything together.

Kids can pick up bags from seven area food and baby pantries.

“I’ve seen kids actually write a whole story on all 10 pages. You know, one picture per page and actually tell the story to you,” said Ruth Blick, Director of Community Resources at Traverse City’s Salvation Army. “So it’s definitely bringing a creativity and enthusiasm from the kids and parents. It’s just amazing.”

Volunteer Sandra Lindley is excited to help out because she sees how important literacy is in her family’s life.

“We have six grandchildren and we know how important it is,” Lindley said. “They’re starting to go into college now, so how important it is to be able to read and to write well and do well in school.”

Volunteers put bags together at Buzzadoo Cafe in Traverse City whenever new stock is needed.

Because the more words a kid is exposed to early on, the better chance they have to succeed in the future.

“Definitely every child in Grand Traverse and Leelanau and our whole area in Northern Michigan, we should have books in everybody’s hands all the time,” Gregory said.

For more information on how you can help, click here.

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