Pensacon and Friends of WFPL join the Great Gulf Coast Read to help students affected by Hurricane Michael

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After Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle in October 2018, a team from the University of West Florida and the Santa Rosa County School District wanted to help students affected by the storm. Entire schools were destroyed or closed “until further notice,” and years of classroom materials and resources had disappeared.

This led to the creation of the Great Gulf Coast Read, an interactive, web-based elementary reading initiative for students, teachers and parents in the counties affected by Hurricane Michael.

The program features UWF athletes, students from East Milton Elementary School and celebrity guests on video reading books on Facebook to students in grades K-5. Some of the books selected for the Great Gulf Coast Read are from the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Program, a statewide reading motivational program for students.

After a class finishes a book, the students have the opportunity to answer questions about each story and to complete activities to sharpen reading comprehension.

Pensacon, the Gulf Coast’s largest pop culture convention, got involved by enlisting celebrity readers (like Star Trek’s Walter Koenig), holding a book drive at their December Yule Ball, and auctioning off VIP passes.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, Pensacon will hold another book drive at the West Florida Public Library’s downtown branch, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For every donation of a new or like-new children’s book, donors will receive a chance to win a coveted VIP pass to Pensacon 2019, Feb. 22-24. The more books you give, the better your odds are to win the pass!

In addition, Friends of West Florida Public Library is collecting donations throughout the month of February to benefit schools in Calhoun County. Click here and select the “Great Gulf Coast Read Donation” to make a tax-deductible donation. All proceeds from this fundraiser will be given to the Calhoun County School District.

To learn more about the Great Gulf Coast Read or to take part in the reading activities, follow the Great Gulf Coast Read on Facebook.