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First Book Portland grants to provide books for children

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego resident Jennifer Johnson Roberts, a member of Lake Oswego-Dunthorpe Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi, reads to children living in West Women and Childrens Shelter. The shelter was one of nine nonprofits that received grants from First Book Portland.

First Book Portland (FBP), a small local chapter of a national organization, has raised $19,878, which will be used to buy books for children in underserved communities. The group has selected to award grants to Albina Head Start, Latino Network, West Women’s & Children’s Shelter, John Wetten Elementary School in Gladstone, Human Solutions, Healthy Families in Washington County, LifeWorks Healthy Families serving the Portland Metro area, MHCC Early Head Start in northeast Portland and Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove.

FBP is run by a group of nine dedicated volunteers.

“The nine of us have worked together to organize fundraising events, write grants, and set up profit-shares with local businesses,” FBP co-chairwoman Nicole Sligh said. “This has been our most successful year by far.” The group distributed 100 percent of the funds raised during their yearly grant cycle. The funds will be used to buy books for children through the First Book Marketplace, which means almost 8,000 books will be going home with the children involved with the programs.

FBP is the Charity of Choice of the Lake Oswego-Dunthorpe Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi. The two groups recently organized an event for the West Women’s & Children’s Shelter, which provides services for survivors of domestic violence. In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the guest list included the Cat in the Hat, exuberantly played by a member of the Lake Oswego-Dunthorpe Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi.

“It was great to get to share this experience with some of hte3 children directly affected by our fundraising efforts,” said Brianna Barrett, FBP’s media chairwoman. “A lot of the work we do involves talking to grownups about these serious issues being faced by children living in poverty — but when you’re with the kids, you get to just think about them as kids. They’re young readers with a real love of learning and stories.”

The group is now looking to expand, and has put out a call for volunteers. Those interested in getting involved should email firstbookportland@gmail.com.

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