INDIANAPOLIS – A goal that was set nearly five years ago will reach a key milestone this weekend as the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) and Cargo Services make a special announcement about "Books for Youth" program at their Oct. 9, 2011 game versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Through the support of Hoosiers across Indiana, "Books for Youth" has reached the halfway mark of its goal to place a backpack filled with 25 age-appropriate books into the hands of every Indiana foster child.
To commemorate this achievement, the Colts will host a pre-game book drive at the Community Collection Stations, presented by Toyota, located outside each Lucas Oil Stadium gate.Fans are encouraged to drop off their donation of new or gently used books before they head into the stadium on Sunday. Volunteers will be collecting books from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Cash donations also will be accepted.
"Since launching the Books for Youth program in 2006, we have been overwhelmed at the generosity of our fans and their support for Indiana's foster children," said Stephanie Mathes, Indianapolis Colts Director of Community Relations. "We're asking them to join us once again in making a smart handoff by donating a new or gently used book prior to kickoff of the Chiefs game. Their donation will help us give one of the most precious gifts we can to a child – the gift of reading."
In addition to the book drive, the Colts, DCS and Cargo Services will celebrate this milestone by recognizing the Wilkersons, a foster family with four foster children who will receive "Books for Youth" backpacks on the field at halftime.
Josh and Greta Wilkerson are foster parents in Johnson County. They are currently the amazing foster parents for 12 year-old Jonathon, 9 year-old Christopher, 7 year-old Marissa and 3 year-old Izzy. These children have been living with the Wilkerson family for more than two years and are currently in the pre-adoptive stages to create a forever family. The Wilkersons and their four foster children will be part of a special on-field presentation during the Colts Oct. 9 game where the children will receive their "Books for Youth" backpack in celebration of the program's halfway mark.
The "Books for Youth" program was officially launched in 2006 through a partnership between the Indianapolis Colts and DCS. The statewide initiative was created after Steve Pemberton, a former foster child, shared his story of personal triumph over situational tragedy crediting a gift from a stranger – a box of books - as his motivation to overcome challenges and provide hope for his future. After hearing this story, James Payne, then Juvenile Court Judge and now director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, made a commitment that every foster child in the State of Indiana would receive this same gift.
"Reaching the half-way point in the distribution of backpacks is an amazing milestone for the Books for Youth Program," said James Payne, director of the Indiana Department of Child Services. "To provide foster children throughout the State of Indiana with these backpacks continues to not only provide them with inspiration but it also supports the importance of literacy that leads well into adult life."
Through the support of the Indianapolis Colts and Title Sponsor Cargo Services, DCS has collected more than 500,000 books and has distributed 5,000 backpacks filled with 25 age-appropriate books to Indiana Foster Youth. At any given time, there are 10,000 children in Indiana's foster care system.
"Cargo Services believes in the Books for Youth program and is proud to be the title sponsor," said Steve Fugate, Cargo Services co-owner. "Cargo Services owners are parents and grandparents. We know and understand the importance of learning to read for long-term education and enjoyment as an adult. The smiles we see on the faces of kids throughout the state who receive backpacks filled with books is simply stated—rewarding."
Individuals attending Sunday's game also can support Books for Youth by purchasing a special edition Colts "BLUE" backpack at the Colts Pro Shop or online at www.coltsproshop.com. For each backpack that's purchased, the Colts will donate one filled with books to an Indiana Foster Youth. Visit www.colts.com/booksforyouth to learn more about the "Books for Youth" program.
About Cargo Services
Cargo Services global logistics team is considered one of the best in the business by its customers and professional partners throughout Indiana, the Midwest and the world. Company owners, managers and employees have more than 500 years of combined international transportation experience in all facets of freight-forwarding and customs brokerage services. The team uses its talents, knowledge and expertise to partner with clients representing manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, plastics, animal feed, food, publishing and other business sectors to seamlessly move air, ocean and ground cargo. The team creates long-term customer relationships of trust through the company's "3-C culture": customer focused, creative solutions and community driven. For more information visit www.cargos.com.