In celebration of our 50th anniversary this year, we wanted to recognize our community’s commitment to Northwest Ottawa County students. For 50 years, a major area of our focus has been education and scholarship. From this priority area, the idea for the Community Book Read was born.

Traditionally, GHACF supports this priority area through grant dollars awarded directly to for-impact organizations. In honor of our 50th anniversary (and in-lieu of a large event due to COVID-19), we were able to make possible several smaller, community-focused activities including the donation of books to students. In May of this year, we gave a copy of the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? to every Northwest Ottawa County second grader, local public libraries, as well as school and classroom libraries. This resulted in a total of nearly 1,000 books gifted.

The book, written by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing, was chosen for its community-centric theme. The story encourages readers to learn about the art of “bucket-filling,” which involves showing kindness to others. In addition to gifting the book, the foundation encouraged students to consider the following questions:

  • Did you fill someone’s bucket today by being helpful, thoughtful, or kind?
  • Did you fill your own bucket today?
  • How do you feel when your bucket is full?
  • Is there anyone you know whose bucket is less than full who could really use a friend right now? If yes, who?
  • What would your community look like if everyone was a bucket filler?

This generous gift was made possible by Shape Corporation, through their component fund of the GHACF. Shape recently developed a grant program for local schools in NW Ottawa County and parts of Muskegon County, to support enhanced programing around literacy and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“We were honored to gift books to hundreds of children in our community. We’re a long-time partner with the community foundation, and the community book read aligned nicely with the mission of the Shape Corporation literacy program. Seeing those smiling faces tells us we’re doing the right thing.” —Tony Verplank, Executive Chairman of Shape Corp

Members of the GHACF team personally delivered books to students at Jeffers Elementary School in Spring Lake.

“It was so much fun to visit Jeffers Elementary and see our plans for the Community Book Read come to fruition,” said Hadley Streng, GHACF President. “We don’t typically get to see firsthand the receipt of gifts from the foundation. A big focus for our 50th anniversary has been giving back to the community and celebrating how far we have been able to come together. Without the dedication and generosity of community members none of this would have been possible, so it was awesome to get to see that come full circle by giving back to the future of our community in such a tangible way.”

In August, the Spring Lake District Library and Loutit District Library offered a Take & Make for area children that incorporated the themes of the book. The kits included crayons, stickers, and postcards for the kids to write encouraging messages for area seniors. The postcards were then distributed through Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging.

Finally, on September 15, we partnered with Loutit District Library to host a virtual event featuring the author, Carol McCloud, reading the book! Children were encouraged to read along as McCloud snuggled with a teddy bear and shared her message of kindness. (Click the picture to watch the video.)

Copies of Have You Filled a Bucket Today? are still available for purchase at the Bookman or for free to homeschooled second graders at the Spring Lake and Grand Haven Public Libraries. Thank you to everyone who participated in this community engagement activity.

Look at what we’ve done. Imagine what we can do, together.