Baseball’s Kevin Youkilis Goes to Bat for Young Readers
By Rocco Staino — School Library Journal, 9 July 2009
Kevin Youkilis, an all-star first baseman with the Boston Red Sox, is going to bat for young readers with his Hits for Kids, an organization that hopes to collect 100,000 new or gently used books for Boston’s public school libraries over a two day period.
Created by Youkilis, along with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and other corporate sponsors, the goal is to receive donations at each of Fenway Park’s five entrances during the Red Sox weekend series against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12.
“We want this campaign to be as successful as possible, and that is why we are swinging for the fences and have set our collection goal at over 100,000 books,” says Enza Sambataro-Youkilis, the player’s wife and president of Hits for Kids. “Judging by the passion that the Red Sox and their fans have for the City of Boston, we are confident that we will surpass our goal.”
Boston Public Schools has created a wish list of close to 150 recommended titles, from Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s One Boy(Roaring Brook) and Anna McQuinn’s Lola at the Library(Charlesbridge) to Carl Hiassan’s Scat (Knopf) and Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax (Random). And students from Lesley University have volunteered to help sort the books in preparation for distribution.
“This will be an incredible shot in the arm for the 94 schools that will be recipients of this generous donation,” says Karin Kell Deyo, a senior program director for the district’s library media services. “This donation will go a long way to help us with boost our print collection for our early readers in that critical time in their literacy education.”
Youk (as he is nicknamed), 30, a Cincinnati native, was signed to the Red Sox in 2004, and last January, he inked a $41.25 million contract. In 2007, he began his foundation, which is dedicated to rallying local and corporate support for charities focused on the health and wellbeing of children.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the lead underwriter, will match each book donation and donate shelves to some school libraries in the city. “We are planning, in some instances, for a full transformation of school libraries-from empty shelves to fully-supplied libraries,” says Houghton spokesman, Josef Blumenfeld.
Valvoline Instant Oil Change will also accept book donations at all of their Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island locations.
What a terrific reading role model Kevin is as well as being a good sports citizen for school libraries. Congratulations to all involved. Wouldn’t it be lovely if some sportspeople in Australia did something similar?