Clifford the Big Red Dog hands out books

Early Literacy Coordinator Joan Whitson reported to Historic City News that more than six hundred local 3 year-olds received an early Christmas gift from Clifford the Big Red Dog and his friends at the Early Learning Coalition of Putnam and St. Johns Counties.

Last Tuesday, twenty-six childcare centers, across Putnam and St. Johns County, were visited by Clifford the Big Red Dog and volunteers from the Early Learning Coalition.

These centers were given book bags filled with a dozen books along with informative handouts for parents on the importance of reading.

“These three-year-olds and their families will have a dozen books to begin reading during a time when families are together,” Whitson told reporters. “We hope the family will help these young children make reading an important part of their lives.”

This project was a community effort with monetary and book donations from: St. Augustine Kiwanis Club, Sunrise Rotary in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Rotary, Sunrise Rotary in Palatka and Hastings Rotary Club.

Additionally, a fund raising event, featuring Comedian Danny Johnson, was held at Jackie Knights Comedy Club in St. Augustine that raised $2,200 toward the project.

“Reading to children at an early age is crucial to their having the skills to be ready for school,” said Early Learning Coalition Fundraising Committee Chair Maxine McChesney. “This is going to be a yearly program for the Early Learning Coalition.”

Ongoing donations to the Early Learning Coalition are greatly appreciated. It costs $25 for one bag of books. Visit to donate or to find out more about the services of the Early Learning Coalition. Become a fan of the Early Learning Coalition on facebook at

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph from Early Learning Coalition

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