FORT MYERS — A virtual book drive by Humana employees in December 2021 has resulted in 285 books for preschool children in Southwest Florida. This is the third year Humana employees in the Central/North Florida region came together to buy books and promote early literacy through the Early Learning Coalition of SWFL’s Literacy Buddy Program. Employees used an Amazon Wish List created by the Coalition to select and order from an age-appropriate book list.
Humana employees scheduled time at preschools to deliver books and read to 3, 4, and 5-year old children at preschools in Lee, Collier and Hendry Counties.
“This is my third year as a Humana Literacy Big Buddy, and it was so heartwarming to see the children embrace their books at our storybook themed book delivery events,” said Humana Medical Director Dr. Lauri Kalanges. “I am also very inspired by the generous spirit of our Humana employees who are contributing to early learning in our communities.”
Humana encourages their employees to give back to the community where they live and work. Each year an employee receives 8 hours of Volunteer Time Off (VTO). Employees can use the time in any way that benefits their community.
The Early Learning Coalition of SWFL’s Literacy Buddy Program connects volunteers with young children in preschools. Volunteers respond to children’s letters and send them books three times during the school year. The program is open to individuals and groups.
“When you give a child a book it is so much more than words on paper,” says the Early Learning Coalition’s Early Literacy Advisor, Tallica Tidwell. “A book opens up opportunities for families to experience reading together. Books that can be shared at home are the basis for this. Our goal as educators is to see children reading early, often, and with an eye toward reading at grade level by third grade.”
Studies show if this third grade milestone is reached, a child is more likely to graduate from high school. High school graduation is an important step to be able to enter the workforce, the military, or to go on to technical school or college.