SVDP Launches Pilot Early Reading Program at its Woodland Pantry
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February 17, 2016

Media Contact:  Natalie Schrimpf
216.696.6525 x. 2520 or

(Cleveland, OH) — In an effort to combat generational poverty in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, one of the city’s most impoverished communities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is piloting a new early reading program to introduce the power of books and the joy of reading to neighborhood children during their earliest stages of life.  SVDP’S “SEEDS to READ” initiative will kick off Friday, March 4 and will target youngsters from birth to five years old, which is the most critical period in brain development, according to experts.  To capitalize on this window of opportunity for learning and provide parents with the tools for instilling a love of reading in their children, SVDP will distribute free, age-appropriate children’s books to parents and legal guardians as they visit the SVDP Woodland pantry each month for food starting Friday, March 4.  The pantry is located at 6001 Woodland Avenue and is open Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with the exception of holidays.
SVDP Cleveland is seeking financial donations to purchase books for the program.  Individuals, organizations or corporations wishing to make a financial donation may send a check/money order to St. Vincent de Paul Society  SEEDS to READ Program, 1404 East 9th Street – Third floor, Cleveland, OH 44114.  Donations may also be made online (please indicate that the donation is for SEEDS to READ) at

The SVDP Woodland pantry is one of the largest food pantries in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood and is situated in an area where 89 percent of residents live below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, according to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.  Nearly one-third of the pantry’s clients are children.  Because the St. Vincent de Paul Society recognizes the challenge for some parents to help their children due to limited resources, it will also offer written instruction on ways to use the books.

“Studies tell us that people entrapped in generational poverty have limited education, poor verbal skills and frequently lack job skills with little hope of escaping their predicament,” said John Litten, SVDP executive director.  “While we know we aren’t in a position to fully eradicate this type of poverty, we’re confident that we can make a significant impact in the lives of many poor children by planting the seeds of learning at a young age with the ultimate goal of building a foundation for lifelong learning.”

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