LIFE donates books to East End students

Santa and his LIFE helpers, from left, Marilyn Conolly, Woody Foster, Erin Galatopoulos and Andrea Bryan with East End Primary students.

Santa made a special surprise visit to East End Primary School this week to present each of the school’s 92 students with two books for Christmas.

Santa was accompanied by his helpers from Cayman’s charity Literacy Is For Everyone, known as LIFE, which donated the books that were given to the children.

“It pleases me to see the generosity of LIFE not just during the giving season, but throughout the entire year,” said Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly in a press release about the donation.

“It is through private and public collaborations such as this one that we can continue to strengthen our students’ love for reading, and inspire them to be lifelong learners,” she added.

Jessica Jackson, East End Primary’s deputy principal, said the donation from LIFE was just another example of the charity’s commitment to literacy in the school, which has benefited greatly from LIFE’s support throughout the years.

She said LIFE has donated Leveled Literacy Intervention kits to assist with intensive support for students in need; sponsored Partners in Print, a parent education program; provided high-quality books to assist in building the collection in the school library; and contributed books to ensure students have access to high-quality children’s literature in classroom libraries.

“The idea to give students books as Christmas presents is a result of both LIFE and East End Primary School’s desire for them to have great books to read at home, along with the access they already have at school.

“We hope they’ll each find some quiet time this Christmas holiday to enjoy them,” Ms. Jackson said.

In order to keep the gifts as a surprise for students, she said LIFE members came to East End Primary with their collection of books, and classroom teachers used their knowledge of students’ interests and abilities to select two special books for each student.

LIFE team members then wrapped all the books and tagged them with the students’ names.

“At LIFE, our focus is on making a difference, one book, one child, one classroom at a time. Our holistic approach to literacy in our public schools focuses on impact and accountability and this has worked very well with [East End Primary],” said Marilyn Conolly, executive director for LIFE.

“We are very happy to give the gift of adventure, curiosity and knowledge through books to the children of East End Primary this Christmas. The individual, personal nature of the donation is important to us because children don’t just need books; they need books that they are interested in reading,” she said.

Book titles included “The Gruffalo,” “A Squash and a Squeeze,” “Mighty Trucks,” “Olivia,” “Splat the Cat,” “Dork Diaries,” “Unicorn Academy,” “Geronimo Stilton,” “Captain Underpants,” “The Apollo 11 Moon Landing,” and many more popular favorites.