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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 12th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 49

Return of the books

BY COLIN PATRICK HODGES

Reading is essential to almost every aspect of society. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 50 percent of the nation’s unemployed youth, age 16 to 21, are functionally illiterate. The department also estimates that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have trouble reading.

Luckily, there are organizations committed to improving literacy. One such organization is Altrusa International Foundation, which has 19 partner organizations around the world.

Founded in October 1960, the local Altrusa club of Santa Maria has given away more than $450,000 in grants to the local community over the last 52 years. Recently, the club gave $72,000 to help build a children’s library and children’s theater in Santa Maria.

The Altrusa club is involved in programs like DEAR (Drop Everything and Read), for which they solicit artists to depict books in paintings that are then raffled away at fundraisers to raise money for such local organizations as the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, and the Luis Oasis Senior Center.

Every November, the Altrusa club is host to a “Holiday Extravaganza” at the Elks Lodge in Santa Maria. In November, 672 people attended the dinner, enabling the group to raise $40,000 for grant applications. Tickets for the “Holiday Extravaganza” go on sale March 1, but if you plan to attend, you’d better hurry up; last year tickets for the event were sold out by March 7.

Altrusa of Santa Maria—whose slogan reads “Leading to a better community”—estimates that they give away more than 1,000 books per year. The group, which is comprised of 51 members from the area, is always looking for new additions to the team.

The group will be host to a membership lunch at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge on Sunday, Feb. 17. Interested members of the community are invited to attend and learn more of what Altrusa does in the area. Call Dawn at 934-1405 for reservations.

Intern Colin Patrick Hodges compiled this week’s Community Corner. Send comments or ideas to the Sun via e-mail at intern@santamariasun.com.