Magazine Exclusive

Reading and feeding

Kip Moore, who is no stranger to the theater, has a flair for the dramatic.

So, when leaders of the Salvation Army’s Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Dayton, Ohio, hold their weekly “Read & Feed” program in a local park each summer, Moore is always among the readers. In doing so, he brings his unique talents to the event.

“It gives me a chance to bring those books to life for the kids,” says Moore, who serves as the Kroc Center’s community outreach and volunteer coordinator. ”It gives them a chance to experience that and see what they can do with reading. Reading is one thing, but when I can bring it to life and add more to a character’s voice, it’s more special.

“I try to bring a little extra for the kids to enjoy and hope it will influence them to get excited about reading and want to read more.”

Since 2015, The Kroc Center has offered the “Read & Feed” program at Stuart-Patterson Park, which is about six blocks away in North Dayton. The readings are from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Monday throughout June and July (except the holiday weekend of July 5). A Salvation Army canteen shows up to serve lunch to families and then everyone gathers in the park to hear a story.

“This is something we do to give back to the community,” says Emily Campbell, the Kroc Center’s education programming specialist. “The program provides everybody with something to eat and a little bit of literature.”

This year, the readings include Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, Thank you, Omu, Hair Love, Rosa’s Big Sunflower Experiment, Finn’s Fun Trucks: Rapid Responders, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, andThe Most Magnificent Thing.

“It’s exciting because the books are from all over the place,” Campbell said.


It’s about community

Melissa Zimmerman, a librarian from the Dayton Metro Library, kicked things off on June 7 by reading Madeline Finn and the Library Dog, and the upcoming schedule features a host of community leaders.

Other scheduled readers are Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who will read The Bear Ate Your Sandwich. Greg Patterson of the Dayton Fire Department will read Finn’s Fun Trucks: Rapid Responders. Tom Trainor, the dean of the department of business at Wright State University in Dayton, has chosen to read Thank You, Omu. Moore has selected Hair Love.

Campbell said the first 25 families receive a free copy of the book at the end of the readings. Families that attend all seven readings will get an eighth book as a bonus.

“We buy all of the books,” Campbell said. “They’re brand-new. Most of them are hardback. These are not cheap books. These are beautiful books that the neighborhood will be able to use.

“Little kids need libraries and this a great way for families to create their own libraries.”

Last year due to COVID-19, the Kroc Center personnel distributed books at the park, but attendance was sparse, and the readings were cancelled for social distancing reasons.

“We gave out food, but not very many books,” Campbell said.

Moore said the Salvation Army canteen also goes out to Stuart-Patterson Park the last two Fridays of the month to distribute food and share the love.

“There are so many children and it’s a beautiful little park there and they’re used to us coming out,” Moore said. “I think the neighborhood really appreciates it.

“We encourage them to be a part of the Kroc and The Salvation Army. We also invite them to church. We think it’s a very good way of evangelizing the people and getting them to experience the Kroc and the church.”

by Robert Mitchell

More information about the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Dayton, Ohio, can be found here.