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Meredith Oppenheim

This time of year we all feel a deep sense of gratitude yet there is still so much we need to accomplish. At the top of my “to do” list is my family’s commitment to continuing to serve our community in meaningful ways.

This year our 5 year old started kindergarten and we are thrilled to be part of her new school community that has a dual focus: The acquisition of knowledge and the giving of time and effort to repair the world.

Since the school year started, our daughter and her classmates visited a senior residential community to distribute craft projects they made and perform songs and dances for their appreciative audience. Last week as part of the interfaith coalition, West Side Campaign Against Hunger Thousand Turkey Challenge, we donated a frozen turkey and created Thanksgiving cards.


At a very young age, our daughter is learning how her actions can have a great impact.

This is particularly the case with our current family project that we began during the long cold winter of 2015, when we created a game thinking of words that had the same blended sounds. Finding words that began or contained sounds such as au, br or ch opened up a world of ideas and images that our daughter and her babysitter, an artistically talented teenager, put on paper and continued to evolve into many new sounds, new sentences and new drawings.

#ReallyReadytoRead is the book we produced. It is written from the perspective of our young child and it empowers other young children to understand they have a voice and a vision that has value. It is our hope that this whimsical book — written in our daughter’s own emerging handwriting with lots of backward letters and uneven lines — will engage and entertain children and fuel their love of reading and desire to author their own stories.

We created a Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of the book and secure donations to leading literacy charities to help other children read and succeed. In the process our family has identified not-for-profit organizations promoting and facilitating early literacy including the Association for Library Service to Children, Literacy INC and Reach out and Read where we will be making book and monetary donations at the completion of our campaign.

We recently made little cards promoting our campaign to share with our neighbors and friends in order to achieve our $10,000 early literacy campaign goal. After just one week we are now more than 60% there.

In the spirit of the “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein, our daughter is beginning to understand she has lots to share and there is always something more you can give. And there are always ways in which we can give. Giving of our time is one of the best things we can do. Giving of our resources. Giving to others in what they need. This can also include helping to give someone a little bit of time to themselves. Gifting your friend a nice set of pampering items from could really make her day. Often times, it’s items like those that we won’t purchase for ourselves – but really appreciate when they’re given to us.

Visit to learn more about our family’s early literacy campaign. We would love to hear from you and send you our #ReallyReadytoRead theme song, please email me at


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