FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Molly Olinger Topf, Program Director
October 20, 2008 Reach Out and Read - Iowa
“Kids Helping Kids in the Flood” Kick-off Event in Cedar Rapids
On Friday, October 24, 2008, Reach Out and Read-Iowa and the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
will host a kick-off event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for Kids Helping Kids in the Flood (KHK) that represents Iowa
children reaching out to help other Iowa children affected by the June 2008 floods through book donations. The group’s
first project is the purchase of The Flood That Came to Grandma’s House, a book by Iowa author Linda Stallone.
Schools and other organizations around the country have used this book extensively for children impacted by floods and
hurricanes, including hurricane Katrina.
This book helps children understand how floods occur and what happens during and after a flood; how families and
communities are affected; and how they work to rebuild their homes and their lives. The book also has a section in the
back for children to write or draw their own story about the flood and how it affected them. When families have
experienced a natural disaster, danger, or displacement from their homes, children look to their parents and other adults to
help them feel loved and protected. Reading aloud to children helps provide them with a sense of security, a predictable
routine, parental support, and nurturing care that can help both children and families during this difficult time.
In partnering with health care organizations to provide books for children affected by the floods, Reach Out and Read -
Iowa is working to ensure that children have books or re-establish having books in their home learning environment. The
mission of Reach Out and Read-Iowa is to make literacy promotion a standard part of well child care and to help children
grow up with a love of books and reading.
The kick-off event will be held at 3 locations in which the first of 1500 copies of the book, The Flood That Came to
Grandma’s House by Linda Stallone, will be distributed to the Cedar Rapids Library, the Cedar Rapids School District,
and the host sites. Author Linda Stallone will read, talk about, and answer questions about her book at the host sites.
9:00am - Cedar Christian Preschool at First Christian Church, 840 3rd Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA.
* On-site directions- Parking is in the lot off of 3rd Avenue, next to the church building. Enter door under canopy
entrance. Canopy entrance goes to church office upstairs. Preschool is through lower level entrance at the bottom. In the
building, Turn right and then left. Classroom is all the way to the end of the hall on the right.
Cedar Christian Preschool is operating out of First Christian Church. Its original location was in the Taylor Elementary
School Neighborhood and damaged by the June flood. Two of the three children served by Cedar Christian Preschool
experienced flood damage to their homes. The pre-flood capacity for Cedar Christian Preschool was 21 children and their
long-term temporary location capacity is 15. Although there is capacity to serve more children in the program many of
the families they serve are no longer in the neighborhood. Also, Cedar Christian Preschool typically uses the summer
months to recruit and register children for this school year program. Flood and recovery efforts disrupted this process and
only 3 of the 7 children preregistered from early June are in the program. Additionally, the Preschool’s director has
stepped down and is now supporting the rebuilding effort for the preschool without pay.
Cedar Rapids Public Library book presentation at Cedar Christian Preschool to Carol Hoke, Children’s and
Programming Services Manager. Cedar Rapids Public Library is operating at their Westdale Mall location, where they
have been since a week after the flood. Today, normal services are in operation including story time, off-site programs,
special programming, reading programs for children and others. A representative selection of materials, totaling 1,000
items, for children can be accessed at the Westdale Mall location. The remainder of the children’s collection survived the
flood and is in storage due to current space limitations.
Page Two Kids Helping Kids in Flood Kick-off Event
The Cedar Rapids Library is in process of remodeling the former Osco space in Westdale Mall in order to consolidate
library services and programming in one location. At the former Osco site they will have the capacity to do most things
that they could before the flood but on a smaller scale.
Currently, it is not known what will happen to the downtown facility. In time, reports on assessments will be shared with
the Cedar Rapids Public Library Board and the City of Cedar Rapids. A decision will be made between them on how
things should progress
10:00am - Trinity Lane Preschool, 400 3rd Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA.
* On-site directions- Corner of 3rd and 5th. Park next door or behind the building in the parking lot. Enter the “education
wing” of Trinity Lane. Preschool is on the second floor.
Trinity Lane Preschool had floodwater only two steps shy of the second floor. Their outdoor learning environment was a
complete loss. Efforts are being made to replace their playground structure and surfacing. Thanks to a lot of
congregation and community help the preschool reopened on September 2. Phones and internet came back on-line
October 10. Work on the basement continues.
11:00am – Taylor Elementary STEP-UP Preschool at Harrison Elementary, 1310 11th Street NW, Cedar Rapids, IA.
* On-site directions- Go to parking lot on north side of Harrison Elementary School. Portable #118 is behind the school.
Go up the ramp and to the right to Diana’s classroom. (56 books to Harrison and Taylor Step-Up programs.)
Cedar Rapids Community School District book presentation to Dr. Jay Marion Associate Superintendent for
Organizational Effectiveness and Accountability, Dr. Joyce Fowler, Harrison Elementary Principal, and Diana Robeson,
Taylor STEP-UP Preschool Teacher. (100 books to 42 preschool classrooms, 23 elementary school libraries, and 35 books
to flood impacted children in the district)
Taylor STEP-UP Preschool lost everything from three feet of floodwater that found its way into their classroom and
Taylor Elementary School in June. The year-round elementary school is closed and scheduled to reopen next school year.
Taylor STEP-UP Preschool is operating in a portable behind Harrison Elementary School. Donations from the
community provide materials for classroom learning. Although Harrison Elementary School only suffered back-up sewer
damage, the flood damaged neighborhood blocks from the Cedar River to Harrison Elementary School are evident.
Founding support for Kids Helping Kids has come from Iowa’s two children’s hospitals – University of Iowa Children’s
Hospital in Iowa City and Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. Additional supporters of the project are Reach Out
and Read-Iowa (ROR-Iowa) and the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Cedar Rapids area
organizations that have partnered with the KHK project in identifying recipients and with distribution of books to
recipients are the Cedar Rapids After School Alliance, Linn County Extension, and HACAP – five giant steps program.
For more information about the “Kids Helping Kids in the Flood” project, contact Molly Olinger Topf, Program Director
for Reach Out and Read-Iowa.
Reach Out and Read – Iowa Coalition is part of a national early literacy program that strives to advance early literacy by making physician offices and
clinics a resource for early literacy, educating parents about the importance of reading to children, and giving books to young children at well child visits,
targeting at-risk children 6 months to five years of age.
Iowa Chapter – American Academy of Pediatrics is a nonprofit child advocacy organization of Iowa pediatricians and other health providers.
Blank Children’s Hospital is committed to family-centered healing, caring and teaching, enabling pediatric specialists to deliver 21st-century medicine,
while providing compassionate care for both the child and family.
University of Iowa Children's Hospital is dedicated to meeting the health care needs of children and their families, providing care across a full spectrum --
from health promotion and well childcare to the crisis of traumatic injury and life-threatening illness, to birth defects, chronic illness, and developmental