It is often said that acts of kindness go a long way. Indeed, for The SM Store's 'Donate A Book' program this year, donations went a long way—as far as the far-flung communities in Mindanao such as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) province of Lanao del Norte, Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga, Butuan, and General Santos.
The SM Store's annual 'Donate A Book' drive gathered around 150,000 quality and age-appropriate books this 2021, bringing the joy of reading to 130 schools and communities across the country.
The reading and learning materials donated via The SM Store CDO Uptown were gifted to the school children from three of the farthest communities in BARMM: Pindolonan Elementary School in Tugaya, Gacap Primary School in Kapai, and Udalo Elementary School in Piagapo. Through a collaboration with the Department of Education's Division of Lanao Del Sur-1 and Arkat Lawanen, the turnover ceremonies with storytelling sessions were held during the National Book Week 2021.
The SM Store CDO Downtown also partnered with the Marawi Ground Zero school network to reach Marawi City National High School, while The SM Store Mindpro tapped the vlogger Zamboanga Guide to distribute Spanish books among 12 schools and a community library across the Chavacano-speaking Zamboanga City.
This year's 'Donate A Book' program was made even more special because, despite the health crisis, the store was still able to share the joy of reading with boys and girls from hard-to-reach areas—a feat that would not have been possible if not for the generosity of the institutions that it partnered with for the program. These include the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines; Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges, and Universities; Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines; and Learning Is Fun.
Grade 3 pupils from 23 private elementary schools across the country were also taught the value of taking care of their books and sharing them with other kids during a virtual Donate A Book Drive and storytelling event. The online initiative gathered around 3,000 books from participating students and schools.
Women empowering women and girls through reading
Also, among The SM Store's partners for the book drive were the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and its lead NGO partner, the National Council of Women of the Philippines (NCWP), which donated more than 60,000 books to promote the love of reading to girls and women from far-flung communities.
"Transformation begins with reading. Reading is essential to empower children and adults, and open their minds to the world of knowledge and personal empowerment," said PCW Chairperson Sandra Montano.
This advocacy was especially reflected in communities such as the Davao City Muslim Women's Cooperative, a group of women established to train Muslim women to be seamstresses to generate income. Spearheaded by The SM Store Lanang, reading materials from Donate A Book were given to the coop members and their daughters to encourage them to study well and become empowered women.
Since its inception in 2015, The SM Store's Donate A Book program has collected almost one million reading and learnings materials for the benefit of public schools, youth organizations, and communities around the country.
To know more about this initiative, visit The SM Store's website.
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