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Garden Tour distributes proceeds of 2015 tour to support literacy in schools

Staff at Evergreen Elementary School received a $3,000 literacy grant from the Gig Harbor Garden Tour Association on Nov. 18. Evergreen Principal Hugh Maxwell, left, Garden Tour Association President Jan Reeder, Evergreen Elementary office manager Betty McCord and Garden Tour Grant Selection Committee members Marion Ekberg and Lori Bonvincini pose for a photograph.
Staff at Evergreen Elementary School received a $3,000 literacy grant from the Gig Harbor Garden Tour Association on Nov. 18. Evergreen Principal Hugh Maxwell, left, Garden Tour Association President Jan Reeder, Evergreen Elementary office manager Betty McCord and Garden Tour Grant Selection Committee members Marion Ekberg and Lori Bonvincini pose for a photograph. Courtesy

The Gig Harbor Garden Tour Association recently distributed the proceeds from the 2015 Garden Tour in the form of literacy grants around the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor.

These literacy grants are designed to promote literacy within schools and the community for all ages.

The garden tour raised about $20,000 this year to distribute through the community, said Janice Reeder, board president of the Gig Harbor Garden Tour Association.

“We want to make a difference,” she said. “We want to find small pockets of big need.”

The Grant Selection Committee found those pockets of need in elementary schools, adult literacy classes and tutoring programs.

Discovery Elementary School in Gig Harbor received a $8,000 grant on Nov. 4.

This grant will go to fund the Garden Tour Intervention (GTI) program the school runs, a tutoring program that supports all grades in the elementary school, said Principal David Brooks.

“It’s a whole-school approach,” Brooks explained. “Every grade comes up with a GTI plan.”

These GTI plans identify the areas where each grade is lagging behind and targets the specific skills students need to improve. The grant will help the school increase its small group instruction to include more students.

Evergreen Elementary School on the Key Peninsula also received a grant. The elementary school received $3,000 on Nov. 18 to assist with its Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program.

Office manager Betty McCord was the Evergreen staff member that completed the grant application for the school.

The funds from the grant will be used to purchase books that will be given to students during the school’s “RIF days,” which occur three times a year.

“It’s a wonderful program,” McCord said. “Our students don’t all have books at home.”

This is the second year the school has applied for the literacy grant.

“I’m hoping this amount will get us through for awhile,” she said.

Other recipients of the literacy grants include the Community and Schools program that provides tutoring for students through the Peninsula School district and the Tacoma Community College adult literacy program located in the Red Barn on the Key Peninsula.

Books were donated to Pediatrics Northwest to be distributed to patients ranging in age from six months to six years in their “Reach out and Read” program, designed to encourage parents to read to their children.

The Gig Harbor Garden Tour is an organization entirely run by volunteers. All the proceeds from tickets sales go directly to funding these community literacy grants.

The Gig Harbor Garden Tour Association has distributed $135,000 since 2011 to help improve literacy in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula.

According to Reeder, Garden Tour has been focused on improving literacy for 20 years, expanding its focus to include all ages in the community.

“It’s kind of unique that the Gig Harbor Garden Tour put all that funding into literacy education,” Brooks said. “I think that’s something that doesn’t get noticed enough.”

Next year’s Gig Harbor Garden Tour for literacy will be held June 25 to 26.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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