CRYSTAL LAKE – With the goal of helping McHenry County children during a crisis, the Nunda Rural Fire Protection District on Friday received five backpacks full of children’s books from Wisconsin-based REACH-A-Child.
“The power of the program is really the distraction part and helping children cope with difficult situations,” said Eric Salzwedel, marketing director with REACH-A-Child.
Founded in 2007, REACH-A-Child is a nonprofit that partners with first
responders to supply each vehicle with a REACH BAG for them to bring out when they encounter children in crisis. Each bag comes with 10 children’s books as well as 10 drawstring backpacks and includes one free refill.
“So really a single bag can support up to 20 children throughout the year,” Salzwedel said.
“This is the first department in Illinois to be a part of this new program, and we’re hoping more departments will learn about this program and want to get involved,” he added.
Books are selected using several criteria. Some criteria include the books being appropriate for all reading abilities, not promoting a religion or war and must be entertaining and comforting to a child in need.
“They must also be in good condition,” Salzwedel said.
Nunda Rural Fire Protection District Lt. Ryan Artner said he learned about the program less than a month ago and instantly became interested in participating in it.
“It seemed like a cool idea to help kids take their mind off whatever they are going through or dealing with right now,” Artner said.
The partnership was made possible through a donation by Snap-on Tools in Crystal Lake.
“The Snap-on employees got together and put their own funds together to donate toward Nunda Fire being a part of this program,” said Jane Brenner, who runs a team out of Snap-on that give back to the local community.
To learn more about the REACH-A-Child initiative, visit www.reachachild.org.