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Donate books to MEO Head Start families at Barnes & Noble holiday drive

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Children at Maui Economic Opportunity’s Head Start will benefit from the Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive, which is ongoing through Dec. 9. The public can buy a book for a Head Start preschool child. Kristy Ruelos, Senior Book Seller, poses with the sign for the book drive (left). Jen Neale, Barnes & Noble Assistant Store Manager (right), holds up Dr. Seuss’ “The Sounds of Grinchmas” in front of the Dr. Seuss section in the Maui Marketplace store. PC: MEO.

Donors to Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive will gift a book, reading and travels to imaginary realms to Maui Economic Opportunity Head Start preschool children and their families, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet and provide holiday gifts.

Customers can purchase a book from the store and make a donation to the drive at the Barnes & Noble location at the Maui Marketplace in Kahului through Dec. 9. MEO was designated as this year’s recipient

Head Start offers preschool at no cost to low income families on Maui and Moloka‘i. Children who are homeless, in foster care and part of families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are given priority.

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The focus of Head Start is to prepare 3 and 4 year olds for kindergarten while working with the entire family. Case managers connect families to supportive services in the community, and parents are involved in their children’s education by sitting on policy boards.

Head Start is the first program established by MEO 57 years ago and is funded to serve 219 children.

MEO Head Start Assistant Director Alex Domingo, who reads for children at the stores’ story time, said the keiki really love picture books and noted that Barnes & Noble has books next to the cash register from which to select.

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So far, more than 1,000 books have been collected of this year’s goal of 1,750 books.

“When adults read to young keiki, we are helping to develop their listening skills, comprehension, language and vocabulary, and so much more, in addition to building a very special bond and connection,” said Domingo. “Books take keiki on special journeys, and can open up a world of wonder for them.”

She thanked Barnes & Noble for selecting MEO as the Holiday Book Drive beneficiary and urged the community “to make a difference in the life of a keiki during the holidays.”

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Amanda Atlan, Lead Bookseller for Barnes & Noble in Kahului, said the Maui team chose MEO Head Start as the recipient for this year’s Holiday Book Drive. MEO Head Start has been selected several times in the past, she added. 

“Our booksellers have partnered with Alex Domingo for many years for our keiki story time and are honored to help her spread joy to keiki and their families,” said Atlan. “We are thankful for this opportunity to serve our local community as all books will be donated to keiki on Maui. 

“Join us in spreading aloha by giving the gift of reading this holiday season.” 

For more information about MEO Head Start, call (808) 249-2988.

* This post was updated from its original version with details on how to donate.

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