BALTIMORE (WJZ) — They call it the “summer slide,” a learning slump when school is out for summer break.

Christie Ileto explains more than 150 volunteers are helping Head Start students stay sharp in the midst of federal budget cuts.

Rory and Katy Peddicord are making sure their peers have enough to read this summer.

“That’s pretty cool, because I’m sure I would like to receive a bag, too,” they said. “Our grandma, she worked at a school for kids and she loved books. That’s why I’m doing it for her.”

The brother and sister duo, along with more than 150 volunteers, were at Notre Dame of Maryland University Sunday, packing summer reading bags for more than 3,600 kids enrolled in Baltimore City’s Head Start program.

“Head Start children need help more than anyone else, and oftentimes they don’t even have any books at home,” said Mark Furst, United Way.

Furst says during the summer, children’s reading skills slide, especially among low-income students.

“We’re going to make sure they go home and have plenty to read over the summer,” Furst said. “We have four or five books, coloring books, crayons.”

Hundreds of boxes of books will fill a 24-foot truck to be delivered. Officials say the program is more important this year, as sequestration could possibly close at least 12 Head Start classrooms around the city–which could affect about 200 children.

“We have a responsibility to serve the communities in which we live,” said Notre Dame President Jim Conneely.

Conneely says most of the books are donated by Notre Dame students and other area organizations.

“As a college student, I appreciate the importance of education and it starts early,” said Samantha, a student. “Kids need to be able to read and read good books.”

By Monday, more than 10,000 children’s books will be assembled, loaded and distributed to area Head Start classrooms around the city to make sure their skills don’t slide this summer.


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