project leader
Lauren J
141 Sycamore Drive
(Crescent Hills Park)
latest update rss
Until Spring...

the project

This is the first year I volunteered to run our local Storytime in the Park.  As a teacher, turned Stay-At-Home-Mom, I was eager to get to work and planned all winter and spring for this summer's storytimes.  It seemed like it wasn't going to be possible due to the pandemic.  However, my plan was for families to leave with a copy of the book and I collected them all year through Scholastic one dollar books. Because we all have our own copy, we can spread out and read it together from a safe distance.  We wear masks, read, sing songs, and create.  Each week, I serve the maximum of 10 families (not always the same ones), and have realized there is a need for programming such as this, especially during the times of Covid-19.  I have heard from multiple caregivers and children that they look forward to it each week.  One child told his mom 'Saturday is my best day because of storytime.'  Another parent said it's been great for her child because it's like school, art, and recess all in one.  I have been asked by many families to extend the program, since school will be very different this year.

As a teacher, I know how important it is to develop a love of books early in life.  I love getting books into children's hands and have been happy to provide this during the summer.  I would love to be able to continue serving my community at the current location, and possibly expand to serve more Penn Hills residents at other locations in my municipality.  However, books can get pricey and so can materials.  Because it is so important for children to have access to books that reflect themselves and to also learn about other cultures, I am asking for money to purchase books that represent a diverse host of characters from different races, religions, abilities, and cultures.  I am also looking for books that can be used to help develop and reinforce strategies for social-emotional learning, which is especially important during these times. 

Each week, after we read and sing, we create.  Our crafts have ranged from sensory bottles, drums, a hands-on caterpillar transformation, pinch pots, to jet packs to help us 'blast off to school.'  As a parent, I am keenly aware that many crafts end up recycled or thrown in the trash after a while, which is why I have made every attempt to reuse byproducts of materials we consume.  These have ranged from yogurt containers, water bottles, egg cartons, and paper towel rolls.  However, some materials must be purchased so that families are not sharing supplies (and germs), which add up.  If I am to continue and expand this project, I must receive some donations for craft materials.  

At the end of each storytime, families leave with their new book, craft, and a book recommendation card all in an organza gift bag that can be reused for gifting.  These bags also allow me to prepackage the materials each family will need so there is no gathering to get supplies.

I have seen the positive impact Storytime in the Park has had on children and families.  I truly believe this fills a need to be outdoors, gain some literacy skills, create with hands on materials, and gather from a safe distance.  Now more than ever there is a need for this as many schools and libraries have not been open.  Your efforts to help me continue this current program and expand to serve more families in my community will impact lives for generations!

the steps

1. Books will be chosen and ordered through Scholastic.

2. Crafts will be researched and paired to books.  A list of materials will be created and ordered, including the organza bags.

3. Book recommendation cards will be created and printed on cardstock.

4.  Bags will be put together before each storytime.

why we're doing it

I noticed, that my very social kindergartener struggled as soon as schools closed in March.  After speaking to other parents, I realized there was a need for safe and social interactions during the time of Covid-19.  As I was already planning on doing storytime this summer, I reworked some crafts and made it so that families can get some social and academic time outside while following safety protocols.  I wasn't expecting it to fill up each week, thinking 10 families was a lot for the small park.  However, week after week, even in the drizzling rain, families signed up and came out Saturday morning to share a special experience.  It is not always the same families, and I realized that since many vacations have been canceled, and people have been staying home more-- this is a need in my community.  Families have shown an interest in continuing as long as we can, as some are opting out of fall sports and schooling is largely virtual this year.   As a teacher and parent, I am happy to volunteer my skills to help children learn in an untraditional environment and give parents a much needed break.



$1,500 for books

$170 organza bags for books and material distribution 

$308 for crafts

TOTAL RAISED = $2,185.00
ioby Platform Fee $35.00
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $107.50
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $64.50


Book & Activity bags, prepackaged for each family- $100

Craft materials & supplies- $200

Books reflecting diverse characters and social-emotional learning topics- $700

ioby Platform Fee waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) $53
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)
Donation processing fees apply to donations only. 100% of match funding goes to projects. Please note, fees are estimated here and final numbers may change based on the final amount raised and amount of match funding applied to this campaign.  


Until Spring...

We wrapped up Storytime in the Park for 2020 on October 31, 2020.  Thanks to your contributions, we were able to enjoy 18 weeks of Storytime in the Park!  I was also able to distribute 80 'Storytime to Go' bags to a local housing community. Each bag had a book, crafts for at least 3 children, and a link & QR code for a recorded Storytime on YouTube.  I will now focus on more 'Storytime to Go' bags for the Penn Hills community and planning activities for the 18 books I was able to purchase to get a head start on the 2021 Storytime in the Park. Thank you again for all of your support.  Your generosity added much joy to our community during a very difficult year! 

Thank you!!! Above and Beyond!

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!  I am blown away by your generosity!  Today I called the director of the Lincoln Park Community Center (LPCC), Joyce Davis, to see how this program could be expanded in that area of Penn Hills.  Given the pandemic and the added stress it has placed on some communities, we decided that passing out the books and craft materials in bags during food pick up with the LPCC food bank distribution would be the best way to reach families most in need.  She made the incredible suggestion to tape the stories and crafts on YouTube and pass out the link and/or a QR code in the bag so that children can read over and over along with the video.  Doing this with the money raised above and beyond what I had originally asked for allows us to serve our community in a way that places no more stress on families impacted the most by Covid-19.  I, personally, am so grateful to each and every donor for caring about my community.  We are so grateful! 


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • Sarah E.
  • Heather D.
  • Erika D.
  • Arlene L.
  • Emily H.
  • Kathleen S.
  • Max and Coop
  • Sunshine Z.
  • Edith N.
  • Laurie K
  • Sarah S.
  • Mia&Kosei
  • Valerie S.
  • Anonymous
  • Jess B.
  • Erica V.
  • Jessica S.
  • Jamie L.
  • Amy D.