Stacks of books provided to children through Drew's Crew

The Power of Reading | The Helpers Next Door

Aug 25, 2020  | 119

by Paige Fahrenkrug

In the midst of a global pandemic, keeping children learning and growing as they get ready for the upcoming school year can seem hectic. This task is even more difficult for lower income families.

Fortunately, Drew’s Crew for Kids took initiative and stepped in to help. Starting in 2016 after the tragic stillbirth of their son, Drew, John and Lara Plaisance were determined to facilitate access to enrichment activities for local youth in need in the Waukee area.

In a typical year, Drew’s Crew’s primary focus is to provide financial support for families to enroll their children in extracurricular activities. With the onset of COVID-19, however, their mission demanded a change.

“We have also always provided books to local families in need,” stated president of the organization Lara Plaisance. “With students being out of school, supplying books to families became our primary focus.”

Since March, Drew’s Crew has distributed around 10,000 books to students within the Waukee School District.

“With libraries initially being closed, and now still difficult to access, and access to books in schools being unavailable to students, we recognized a need to get books into the homes of local students who otherwise would suddenly be without access to books,” said Lara.

These books were distributed at various local Grab-n-Go meal pick up sites, making it convenient for families to obtain learning material for their children in the summer. With many summer camps and classes being cancelled, reading is a great way for families to keep their children engaged during this global pandemic.

Lara advises families to “use this time to encourage kids to try different types of books, different authors, different genres. Reading will naturally expand vocabulary, it will help kids discover new places, new interests, new passions.”

Unfortunately, Drew’s Crew for Kids has recently decided to suspend all in-person activities for the safety of the families they support; however, they are currently exploring alternate support methods and are continuing to assist families in need as much as they can.

“We anticipate that as we start working with families again toward engaging kids in extracurricular activities, we will have many more families to support than we did before the pandemic,” Lara added. “We would love to be able to provide brand new books, not just pre-read books to these families as they start the new school year. It will be a difficult time for these students, and to be able to start them off on the right foot with a crisp new book, never read before, will hopefully give them a sense of excitement about starting something new.”