The holiday season is a time of giving gifts and giving service. Volunteers from ViacomCBS recently brought joy to LINC by giving their time to our Holiday Read Aloud Video Project. On Monday, December 7, 34 ViacomCBS volunteers signed onto a Zoom orientation where they learned how they could be of service by simply recording a video.
LINC’s programs have been completely virtual for most of 2020. Our volunteer service projects have also shifted to online platforms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of LINC’s volunteer programs, however, remains the same--to help the organization meet real needs through the kindness of others and the social responsibility of its corporate partners. The children LINC serves have a real need for access to reading opportunities, as schools and daycare centers experience disruptions and little ones continue to learn remotely. Children who do not have access to books and reading at home are in danger of being affected by the inevitable opportunity gap that will result from the pandemic in the communities LINC serves.
Within a week of the Zoom orientation led by LINC, which included a read aloud demonstration, volunteers submitted videos of themselves reading children’s books aloud. They used a toolkit provided by LINC that gave them guidelines on how to choose a “just right book” and tips on making their read aloud interactive and fun. Volunteers went above and beyond- they wore costumes, read to their dogs, and even introduced us to a puppet friend named Roscoe.
One volunteer, Fred Jackson, a Senior Director of Media and Consumer Promotions from BET, one of the many companies under the ViacomCBS umbrella, read “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, the first color picture book to have a black main character. Fred read the classic story and talked about the importance of representation in his video. “Seeing ourselves is important,” he said. We reached out to thank Fred for his important message and he followed up by saying that he hopes the video is enjoyed by even one child. LINC’s hope with this project, and with every program we lead is that the children we serve see themselves in the stories they read.
ViacomCBS volunteers shared many messages about the importance of reading. Some talked about how much they loved to snuggle up with a good book and read with their children. Others said that reading helps them be successful in their jobs. Many volunteers shared that reading has been a relaxing escape from the realities of this tragic year. And most importantly of all, the volunteers urged children to read for at least twenty minutes every day, especially during their holiday break.
LINC will now use these wonderful read aloud videos as resources for the families we serve. We have created a playlist on YouTube that parents and children can access at their convenience and we will also feature each of the videos on the LINC website throughout the new year.
We have so much to be grateful for this holiday season. We are thankful for our volunteers who serve LINC year after year. We are also thankful for our longtime partnership with ViacomCBS, a company that cares about engaging its employees in volunteerism, and that is dedicated to serving the community at large. Thank you ViacomCBS for helping to continue to strengthen our online programming so that more little New Yorkers practice reading daily during the holidays and in the coming year. If you are interested in volunteering virtually with your corporate team on a read aloud or skills-based project, please contact Chabely Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 620-5462 ext. 124.
Check out the videos on our holiday playlist here: