The Star-Herald

Second Literacy Tea a success

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The second Literacy Tea event, hosted by Neighborhood Books and sponsored by Presque Isle Rotary Club, was held on Sept. 17 at the Aroostook Shrine Club in Presque Isle and was a sold-out event.More than 250 children, adults, and community volunteers gathered to participate in this unique book-themed event.  24 tables, hosted by community volunteers, were each decorated in specific book themes ranging from picture books like “The Polar Express” to popular chapter books like “Investigators” and “Matilda.”

All proceeds from the tea will be used to purchase books for Aroostook County youth in foster care. 

Laura Hale, owner of Neighborhood Books and coordinator of the tea, said  event is important to show kids that reading is fun and to increase community development.  

“Overall, I’m extremely pleased with our turnout and the creativity of each table volunteer.  All proceeds of the event will go to providing books to children in foster care, a cause that is very important to me,” Hale said.

Halina Herzog hosted a table, with this year’s table being inspired by “The Little Prince.” 

“This quote from the book basically sums up my experience with the Literacy Tea: ‘And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ The joy of sharing love for books and readings, the cause, and the positive energy are main reasons to join this way or another,” Herzog said. 

She said she is always amazed at how creative the tables are.

Sarah Hatt, resource family specialist for Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine was very happy with the turnout and thankful that so many people came out to support kids in foster care.

“There are about 200 children in foster care in Aroostook County currently. Of those, there are roughly 90 placed with kinship or relative caregivers,” she said. “There are 1,200 additional children in Aroostook County living with kinship caregivers outside of the system, which is an important number I don’t think many people in the community realize.”

Attendees browsed tables, purchased books and raffle tickets for prizes, enjoyed snacks and participated in both group and individual-themed table activities.

“It was really awesome seeing hundreds of families coming together to all have a great time and bond. I also enjoyed the crafts and snacks that we made and ate. It was a really great experience and I am looking forward to next year’s literacy tea event,” said Emily, age 12 of Caribou, who joined the Presque Isle Rotary Club’s “Where the Wild Things Are” table with her mom.

Hale said more than $4,300 was raised, which will provide nearly 400 books to children in foster care throughout Aroostook County.  Presque Isle Rotarians also hosted a separate book drive earlier in the year and will donate 120 additional books to this effort. 

Hale plans to make the Literacy Tea an annual event.

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