COFI Literacy Event

Our Community Organizing & Family Issues (COFI) Game Changers put on an amazing event on September 14th! The COFI Game Changers decided to host a literacy event to inform the community about the new 3rd grade reading law with a fun community event. The Literacy event was held at Neland Christian Reformed Church and attendance far exceeded our expectations. The weather was beautiful and the community truly came out in support! We had over 270 people in attendance including volunteers! Each person in attendance received a purple COFI Game Changers tote bag fill with crayons, pens, pencils, a notebook, folder and information regarding the 3rd grade reading law. Parents were also given a passport to visit the various activity stations and vendors. Each completed passport allowed the parent to be entered in the raffle drawing. There were many prizes raffled off during our event including chalk sets, art sets, board games, gift cards, and the ultimate grand prize of 4 tickets to a Grand Rapids Griffins Game!

Yesterdog catered the event with their signature hotdogs and all of the fixings including chili, cheese, pickles, and onions. Kona Ice was there with their amazing shaved ice and flavored syrups. There were also many snacks to choose from including chips, cookies, animal crackers, fruit cups, fruit snacks, and a little candy.

There were multiple activities for the children to enjoy including sensory bins, vendor activities, and craft stations where the children were able to create their own paper bag puppets and decorate their own bookmarks. In fact, all of our activities were centered around the Kent County Success Basics and there were reading tips parents were able to pick up from the different activity stations!

What would a literacy event be without books? We had over 400 books to give away to the community! Almost every child in attendance received at least 2 books. Children also received a stuffed animal to adopt. The stuffed animals came with a card attached to remind the children to read to their pet every night for 20 minutes! We also had various story times throughout the event with a number of big books on loan from the Kent ISD and library that were read by some of our volunteers and their oldest son. The children loved storytime!

There were a variety of vendors at our event providing activities and information to those in attendance. We truly appreciate Head Start of Kent County, ELNC, Early On, Success, Census 2020, The Great Start Parent Coalition, Great Start To Quality, and Centennial Park Counseling attending our event as vendors.

A special treat for the kids (and some adults) were the horses and a bloodhound brought to the event by Donald and Denise Simmons. This was so very special for the individuals at our event. One little girl exclaimed, “I’ve never seen a real horse in person before.” The horses were the highlight of many of the children’s day. They were able to sit on the horses, feed them carrots and apples, brush their hair, and I even saw one horse with a French braid!

The Grand Rapids Police Department spent time at our event. The children were able to check out the police car, turn on the siren, and take pictures with the officer on duty. We also had a brief visit by the Fire Department, however they were called into action before the children were able to check out the firetruck.

To end our beautiful event a group of Praise Dancers danced to Listen by Marvin Sapp and You Will Win by Jekalyn Carr.

This event would not have been possible without our grant from the Grand Rapids Neighborhood Match Fund, a grant provided by the Michigan Department of Education, Neland Christian Reformed Church and our many amazing volunteers! We had over 40 volunteers working the event  – we could not have done it without them, and we are so appreciative!


Funding from the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education supports the implementation of Great Start.