Mantua – Twenty-five volunteers — including one Cat in the Hat — came from four area churches on one evening to help spread a message of family literacy at Crestwood Primary School (CPS).

“We’re grateful to be invited into the school. Family Literacy Night is a great way for us to help children and families in our community,” stated Chad Delaney, pastor of Mantua Center Christian Church.  Members of his church, along with volunteers from Hiram Christian Church, Hilltop Christian Church and Brighter Day Church provided pizza, drinks and cookies; donated books and money; and manned ‘literacy’ booths throughout the school to help make the evening a huge success. 

StorytimeThe Dr. Seuss event drew more than three-hundred people, and, although admission was free, attendees were asked to donate non-perishable food items to benefit the 4Cs Food Pantry. According to Roger Hurd, 4Cs Donation Coordinator, the group collected an estimated 275 pounds of food that will be distributed to the area’s needy families. At the door, families were given a tote bag, courtesy of Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA), and special passport to explore the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss. Visiting families then earned stamps as they completed activities throughout the school.

Primary teachers and volunteers led games and crafts and shared learning games on computers and iPads. Storytellers, including Sandy Tucker, Children’s Librarian from the Portage County Library’s Aurora Branch, read Dr. Seuss stories to children. The Cat in The Hat signed autographs and posed for pictures. As an added bonus, each child who completed their passport got to choose a Dr. Seuss hard-bound book to keep — building literacy, and their home library.

“Thanks to the phenomenal support from our wonderful community, stated CPS Principal Beth Trivelli, “we were also able to provide each CPS student unable to attend literacy night with their own hard-bound Dr. Seuss book. We applaud the community for their support, and the value they place on family literacy. Together, we’re teaching that ‘Readers are Leaders’!”

Several individuals and organizations also contributed to the success of the event. Nora Brant created four original Dr. Seuss-themed quilts that raised funds and were raffled off at the event.  Pastor Chad and Christin Delaney helped plan and facilitate the event, and countless local organizations, like the Mantua Eagles and Kohl’s Department Store, donated time, materials and funds for the night of family fun. Mantua Village Police Lieutenant Ken Justus was in attendance to give kids the opportunity to meet his partner, K-9 Officer Vader.  Student Resource Officer Urso was on hand to meet families, and listen as children read him stories. Retired teacher Amy McCoy brought her therapy dog, Chloe, who gave kids the chance to visit with and read to a new best friend.

Based on the success of this event, Trivelli plans to hold a similar event next March. Meanwhile, mark your calendar for a back-to-school community day during the third week of August. And keep on reading, because as you’ve just read, readers really are leaders!

Christin Delaney, storyteller extraordinaire, reads “The Cat in the Hat” to kids at CPS’s Literacy Night