For the last ten years, children’s literacy has been an important part of the community services agenda of the Lakewood/Long Beach Knights of Pythias, which last year collected and distributed more than 50,000 children’s books.
From May 1 through June 1, the Knights, through its Children’s Charities program, and the Long Beach Public Library will launch a major effort to collect both new and used children’s books to be given to hospitals, public housing developments, childcare centers, and children from low-income families.
Children’s Charities is a joint venture between the Knights of Pythias Children’s Welfare Foundation (CWF), and The Pythian Youth Foundation of California. Both nonprofit organizations were formed in the mid-1940s to serve California’s disadvantaged children and youth through a variety of programs and services that include health and safety, literacy, and wilderness camping.
Mel Pinkham, one of 17 Knights in California to receive the Golden Spur, the highest honor that a Pythian can receive, started the program, entitled Is This Book for Me?, five years ago when he learned from the U.S. Department of Education that 55 percent of children who receive an age-appropriate book of their own developed an increased interest in reading, and of adults at the lowest level or literary proficiency, 43 percent lives in poverty.
Books can be dropped off at any of the 12 branches of the Long Beach libraries.