Central Maine Power Company (CMP) delivering free books for kids to the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Maine State Chamber of Commerce | Contributed

Access to books to help build kids’ learning skills a higher priority than usual due to COVID-19 pandemic

AUGUSTA – Central Maine Power Company (CMP), Hannaford and Hussey Seating collected nearly 2,000 books for Maine children in a book drive organized by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce over the summer. Access to books for kids of all ages, particularly younger readers, is critical to learning and helps close the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged kids and their peers from higher income families. Books and reading also help build learning skills that enable kids to do better in school, increasing the likelihood they will graduate high school, pursue a post-secondary degree or credential and have successful careers as adults.

Early in the summer of 2020, when educators indicated providing access to books for kids was a higher priority than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maine State Chamber initiated the book drive to help fill the need. Between company monetary donations and new and gently used books donated by their employees, CMP, Hannaford and Hussey Seating participated in collecting the nearly 2,000 books.

Working with Educate Maine and the Maine Department of Education, many books were shared with kids at summer meal sites across Maine. Many more books continue to be distributed statewide through Maine’s County Teachers of the Year as kids start the school year.

“Giving back to our communities is at the core of what we do every day at CMP, and this book drive was a fantastic opportunity to provide young Mainers with the tools they need to succeed,” said Doug Herling, CMP’s president and CEO. “There is nothing like reading a good book to help kids broaden their vocabularies, improve spelling and grammar, and do well academically. Plus, reading is fun, and can open doors to a child’s imagination, the world and foster a lifelong interest in learning.” 

“Hannaford was pleased to help collect books for kids for the Maine State Chamber’s book drive over the summer,” said Eric Breton, Belfast Hannaford store manager. “Like most Mainers these days, kids are home more due to the pandemic, even with school starting. We hope having books around the house means more kids will be reading, getting excited about something new they learn from a book, and growing their interest in learning and school.”

Gary Merrill, president and CEO of Hussey Seating, said, “Access to books is critical to building learning skills for kids, and Hussey Seating was happy to take part in the Maine State Chamber’s book drive for kids this summer. Free books for kids who don’t have access to them has been shown to help improve early literacy skills. This is especially true when a parent reads to a small child. This a great way for parents and kids to spend quality time together and develop stronger bonds, especially during the pandemic.”

“CMP, Hannaford and Hussey Seating really stepped up to fill the need for books, and we thank them for supporting Maine kids, especially during the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented,” said Dana Connors, president and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “Making sure all Maine youth have access to the resources they need to do well in school is the right thing to do. It’s also an investment in Maine’s future economy, since kids who do well in school are more likely to graduate high school, pursue a college degree or credential, and succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.”

Employers who would like more information on the Maine State Chamber’s book drive, or are interested in Scholastic Books’ discount offer to help get books to Maine students, should contact Megan Diver at mdiver@mainechamber.org.To view a brief video of Herling delivering books to Maine State Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dana Connors, please click here (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2470718099900378).