The UPS Store and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation announced the five finalists for the second annual Alferd Williams Literacy Award, which honors an individual who has raised awareness and taken action on the issue of childhood illiteracy. The five finalists are: Kirsten Bremer, Mich.; KK Cherney, Fla.; Margaret King, N.Y.; Greg Ruiz, Calif.; and Marla Standage, Mo. These finalists were nominated by their peers and chosen by a panel of judges, including representatives from The UPS Store, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Scholastic Inc. and the National Center for Family Literacy.
Now through Sept. 30, the public may vote online at www.scholastic.com/literacyaward for the finalist it considers the most deserving. The finalist who receives the most public votes will receive an advantage in the final round of panel judging, and the winner will be announced Nov. 1. The inaugural Alferd Williams Literacy Award was presented to its namesake in 2009. Williams rose to national attention when he enrolled in first grade at the age of 70 in order to pursue his dream of learning to read.
“While it was difficult to select just five finalists, these five individuals stand out as heroes in the fight against childhood illiteracy,” says Stuart Mathis, president of Mail Boxes Etc. Inc., franchisor of The UPS Store. “Each has a unique approach to helping children foster a love of reading in his or her community. They are all living examples of the purpose of the Toys for Tots Literacy Program.”
The Toys for Tots Literacy Program offers the nation’s most economically disadvantaged children direct access to resources that will help them read and communicate effectively. Since the literacy program’s inception in March 2008, The UPS Store network and its customers have raised more than $1 million to purchase books for less-fortunate children around the nation, many of whom have limited access to resources in their schools and communities.
“Over the last two years, the literacy program has seen tremendous success, raising more than $1 million to purchase an equal number of books for less-fortunate children,” says Lt. Gen. Pete Osman, USMC (Ret.), president and chief executive officer of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “Now, with this award, we are able to recognize those who are on the front lines, fighting to eradicate illiteracy from their schools and homes.”