by Guy Vickers
Guy Vickers is the President of the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation.
For the past two years, we at Tommy Hilfiger have had the joy of participating in Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®. We’ve been proud to sponsor Jumpstart by providing the uniforms worn by Corps members across the nation, and we’re thrilled that our partnership enables us be a part of Jumpstart’s annual reading celebration. Each year, Tommy associates, including our senior leadership team, engage with Jumpstart and the Hudson Guild School in Chelsea, New York City. We come together to bring awareness to the importance of high-quality early childhood education by reading and participating in an activity with young children at the preschool.
On October 3, I rotated between two classrooms for a reading of Otis, a story of friendship between an old tractor and little calf, and barn mural activities. Like the children Jumpstart serves, many Hudson Guild preschoolers reside in low-income communities. They often don’t have opportunities to read with their parent or caregiver, which can leave them unprepared to enter kindergarten. On days like Read for the Record, we work to change that.
To start the celebration, the children broke into small groups to read with volunteers. Fingers pointed and jaws dropped as the story progressed. After we read, the children asked to read another book, while others cried for a repeat of Otis. Each child went home with their own copy of the story, giving them a chance to enjoy the adventure all over again. It goes to show what sitting down for a few minutes with a story can do – times like this can instill a love of reading in children, helping them reach their full potential and setting them up for future success.
After reading Otis, the students and volunteers used their imaginations to create large barn murals, working with googly-eyes, feathers, farm animal stickers, and crayons of all colors. Not all materials ended up on the paper (a significant amount could be found sprinkled on clothes!), but the children had smiles on their faces the entire time. Both the volunteers and children crowded the floors, recreating the happy parade at the end of the story and drawing their own barns. Every child took something away from the book, which I loved.
“It’s great to be able to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Jeannine D’Onofrio, Executive VP of Central Production. “Reading at an early age is so important, and the need is great. To get a chance to volunteer with Jumpstart today was really impactful.”
Jumpstart’s Read for the Record shines a much-needed spotlight on the need for high-quality early education and allows people across the country and around the world to participate in a national movement for children’s literacy. Not only did we have a great effect on the children we read to, but we also know that millions of others shared our experience on October 3.
What did you do to celebrate Jumpstart’s Read for the Record? Be a part of the celebration, and share your story today.