Buccaneers Executive Vice President Joel Glazer (left) shares books donated by the Glazer Family Foundation with Hillsborough County library officials Joe Stines and Barbara Rooks
In the next few weeks, children across the Tampa Bay area will finish their school years, set aside their textbooks and look for new worlds to explore over the summer.
They can find hundreds of them at the library.
The Glazer Family Foundation wants kids to understand this, wants them to realize that the beginning of the summer shouldn't mean the end of reading. That's why the Foundation has partnered with Friends of the Library to form a summer reading program. The Glazer Family Foundation has donated 100,000 Buccaneer bookmarks to the public libraries in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties in an effort to encourage kids to pick up a book this summer.
"We are very excited about this partnership between the Glazer Family Foundation and Friends of the Library," said Buccaneers Executive Vice President Joel Glazer, who was on hand Tuesday at the Egypt Lake Partnership Library to help kick off the program.
"Every child who checks out a book this summer will get a free Tampa Bay Buccaneers bookmark. We are encouraging parents to take their kids to the library and encouraging kids to check out a book. Just because school is out doesn't mean the kids should stop reading. Reading is vital and important, and going to the library can be a great experience."
The bookmarks will be available in area public libraries beginning June 1.
The Egypt Lake location was chosen as the site of Tuesday's announcement because it is a partnership library, meaning that the public library system will keep it open during the summer, between school years at Egypt Lake elementary. Forming the bulk of the audience for Tuesday's press conference was a group of 30 children who call themselves Survivors, based on the hit CBS reality show.
The Survivors are kids involved in an incentive program that involves reading. The members of the group are encouraged to behave properly, attend school regularly, be on time and do their best in the classroom. By following these guidelines, they become eligible for prizes and special events, such as Tuesday's announcement. Besides learning of the reading program, the Survivor students were entertained by the Buccaneers Mascot, met several Buccaneers cheerleaders and were treated to cake and beverages.
They also got the first look at the library's newest inventory, an assortment of 60 children's books in both English and Spanish that the Glazer Family Foundation donated to the Egypt Lake Partnership Library on Tuesday.
Whether young visitors to the library check out these newest books or any of the thousands of other exciting stories available to them, they are doing themselves a great favor by choosing to read for pleasure, according to Joe Stines, the Director of Libraries for Hillsborough County.
"Reading is most important," said Stines. "No matter if you go on to get a college degree or not, you need to read to be able to function in society. Reading is a priority in Hillsborough County schools, and it certainly is with our public libraries. We do everything we can to be creative and to keep reading at the top of students' priority lists."
The attractive Buccaneer bookmarks, which feature an action photo and the team's 2001 schedule on the back, will certainly help accomplish that goal and promote the activities of Friends of the Library. Friends is a non-profit organization that helps raise funds for area libaries and aids with such volunteer opportunities as author visits, book sales, magic acts and puppet shows.
On Tuesday, Glazer handed out Buccaneer hats and souvenir flags to the Survivor students in attendance. Any day at the library, however, is a day potentially filled with treasures. The path to these new areas of explorations is simple.
As Glazer said: "Go to the library, get a Buccaneer bookmark and read a good book."