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East County Thursday, Jul. 29, 2021 2 months ago

Lakewood Ranch rotarian receives award for Books for Kids program

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Country Club's Ted Lindenberg receives Local Impact Award for promoting literacy.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Country Club’s Ted Lindenberg can’t wait for Aug. 10.

August 10 not only means the first day of school for the School District of Manatee County, but it also means Lindenberg, who is the director of the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch’s Books for Kids program, and the 150 volunteers can begin going into first, second and third grade classrooms once again to read to children and distribute books. 

Since the inception of the Books for Kids program in 2014, Lindenberg’s goal has been to spread the word that literacy matters.

This year, Rotary District 6960 honored Lindenberg with the Local Impact Award for his work with the Books for Kids program.

“This award means a great deal, but it’s not just me,” Lindenberg said. “I couldn’t have a program like this without the support of an entire Rotary club and without the support of people who supervise and direct each aspect of the Books for Kids program.”

Books for Kids started with only five volunteers going into five classrooms at one school in Manatee County. The program distributed 300 books in its first year.
Now the program includes 150 volunteers going into 11 schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties distributing more than 2,800 books per month.

Ted Lindenberg, the director of Books for Kids, hands Jim Byrhe, the music teacher at James Tillman Elementary School, a bag of books for his students to take home during the fifth annual Books for Kids Luncheon. File photo.

“We need to reach these boys and girls before the end of third grade because statistics show if students have a reading problem by then, there is a high probability they will have a reading problem for the rest of their lives. That will affect their graduation and their career choices.”

Although volunteers were not allowed into schools during the 2020-2021 school year due to the pandemic, Lindenberg and his team of program coordinators — Jim Frederick, Jim Wingert and Joanne Shakon — adapted the Books for Kids program to be virtual so volunteers could continue to help children.

Books for Kids volunteers met with students one on one virtually each week to read with them and mentor them. Volunteers also continued to distribute books by dropping them off at the front office of each school.

Lindenberg said the program has distributed close to 83,000 books since it began in 2014.

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