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Literacy kits prep kids for kindergarten
new slt literacy
Literacy kits for preschoolers entering kindergarten were purchased with a donation from Great Bend High School students and assembled by Barton County Young Professionals members for United Way of Central Kansas. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

   A monetary donation from Great Bend High School students, added to time donated by the Barton County Young Professionals and other volunteers, means area children may be better prepared when they start school. More than 400 literacy kits from the United Way of Central Kansas have been assembled to hand out at Kindergarten Roundups this spring.

The project started last April, when GBHS students chose UWCK as the beneficiary of a fundraiser. UWCK Executive Director Julie Smith used the gift as seed money for a reading initiative for children entering kindergarten in Barton and Pawnee counties.

Next, volunteers from businesses and organizations donated their time cutting out thousands of alphabet and number flash cards. Lincoln Elementary School, Farmers Bank & Trust, CUNA Mutual Group, the Central Kansas Library System, Beckwith’s Mortuary, Credit Union, Great Bend Middle School Student Council and Heartland Community Church Youth Group all spent time cutting out the cards.

Meanwhile, BCYP members Regan and Cole Reif were chosen to serve as co-chairs of the 2016 United Way campaign in an attempt to get more young professionals involved with UWCK. They were assigned to spearhead the project of making literacy kits for children in preschool. The kits are an effort to encourage literacy to make sure children are ready to enter kindergarten with the reading and writing skills that will give them a better start to their education.

Last Saturday, Jan. 16, the Young Professionals held a work day at Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball Chartered in Great Bend to assemble literacy kits.
Each kit includes a drawstring bag, crayons, numbers and alphabet flash cards, worksheets and handouts, and the book, “Curious George’s First Day of School.”

YP Community Impact Team Leader Traci Burns said the team found several ways to attract volunteers for service and add some fun to the event. Volunteers watched a marathon of Star Wars movies while they worked. Snacks were provided through a grant from Melinda Kurth at Thrivent Financial.
“Our members seemed really excited about the event and the cause,” said Burns. “We had no trouble getting people to participate.
“Volunteering is one of our three purposes of Young Professionals – Lead, Network and Volunteer,” she continued. “We are committed to giving back to our communities and to seeing them thrive. We encourage all of our members to get involved and providing opportunities for them to do that is something we are committed to.”

The group is a Great Bend Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development program open to any Barton County resident between the age of 21 and 40(ish). To learn more about BCYP, visit and “like” the Barton County Young Professionals page on Facebook. #BCYPproud