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This past weekend, Pi Beta Phi® Fraternity for Women distributed 20,000 new books to schools, after-school programs and community programs serving students from low-income families. 250 volunteers helped to distribute the 20,000 books to more than 100 recipient groups throughout the Detroit area. The book distribution took place in honor of Pi Beta Phi’s Fraternity Day of Service, an annual event bringing Pi Phis together to serve their communities through literacy service. Access to new, age-appropriate books helps change these children’s lives.

This year’s event took place at Kresge Eye Institute at the Detroit Medical Center. At the event, Pi Phis helped sort, carry and distribute books and facilitate children’s activities led by Michigan authors: Debbie Taylor, Denise Brennan-Nelson, Kristin Bartley Lenz, Lisa Rose and Ruth McNally Barshaw. They provided engaging activities for the 150 children who attended including making personalized bookmarks, bookplates, face painting; Dr. Seuss® related crafts and photo booth. Each child took home a goodie bag with their own hand-selected book.

“An eight-year-old girl unexpectedly grabbed my hand and asked me if she could go through the hallway of cheering volunteers wearing storybook character costumes – the look on her face with her huge smile was priceless as we walked hand-in-hand surrounded by smiling Pi Beta Phi volunteers,” said Event Co-Chair Michelle Woodhouse. “She didn’t let go of my hand until she jumped into her chair in author/illustrator Ruth McNally Barshaw’s program where she learned how to draw a story with the other children. She looked up at me with a big smile and said ‘thank you so much’ and I walked away with tears in my eyes.”

Pi Beta Phi is helping put books into the hands of these deserving children in partnership with First Book®, a nonprofit providing new books to its national network of schools and programs. Over the past several years, Pi Beta Phi has donated well over $1 million to literacy causes and given more than one million books to children in need. Now, the goal is to impact one million lives through its philanthropy Read > Lead > Achieve® by the time Pi Beta Phi celebrates its 150th anniversary this summer.

“Our Fraternity of almost 300,000 women is united in the cause to promote the importance of reading,” said Pi Beta Phi President Paula Shepherd. “According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, one in four children grows up functionally illiterate, and we believe that is one too many. Pi Beta Phi is thrilled to participate in this book distribution because we believe reading transforms individuals, creates leaders and is the foundation of all that we can achieve in life.”

For images from this event, click here.

About Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women Founded in 1867 at Monmouth College in Illinois, Pi Beta Phi has installed 204 collegiate chapters and nearly 300 alumnae clubs worldwide. Pi Beta Phi promotes friendship, develops women of intellect and integrity, cultivates leadership potential and enriches the lives of members and their communities. The Fraternity believes in the power of reading and through its philanthropy, Read > Lead > Achieve, promotes a lifelong love of reading that can unlock true potential. For additional information, visit www.pibetaphi.org or follow Pi Phi on Twitter and Facebook.

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