United Bank helps in reading initiative

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

United Bank of Atmore is bridging the gap between book and student.

The local bank paid the shipping for books to be sent to Perdido Elementary School students from First Book, an initiative that provides access to new books for children in need.

How Perdido obtained these books was through United Bank Executive Assistant Tonya Lambert, who was asked by her boss, UB Bank CEO Bob Jones to do some research on the First Book website.

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Lambert said United Bank’s status as a CDFI institution and that it provides small dollar loans, reloadable cards and checking made it possible to join in in the initiative.

“I have a child that attends Perdido,” she said. “I got into the First Book website, and briefly answered some questions.”

Perdido Elementary was approved to be a part of the First Book initiative. The website allows users to select which books can be sent to the schools, Lambert said.

The only cost, due to the fact that Perdido Elementary School is not located near a distribution site, is shipping.

United Bank covered the full cost of shipping and handling in an effort to put books into the hands of all Pre-K and Kindergarten students at Perdido.

In addition to delivering the books, Mrs. Lambert took time to read a story in each of the classrooms.

“It was so wonderful seeing the smiles on their faces,” she said.

The best part about the initiative is that students can bring the books home and don’t have to return them, Lambert said.

“They said, ‘you mean I don’t have to bring this book back?’” she said. “’This is my own book?’”

To date, First Book has distributed more than 130 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.

Lambert said she is planning on trying to get other schools involved in the initiative.

Those schools that are interested in the initiative need to visit www.fbmarketplace.org.