United Way Of The Brazos Valley Assuming Administration Of The “Books And A Blanket” Literacy Program

Image from United Way of the Brazos Valley.
Image from United Way of the Brazos Valley.

United Way of the Brazos Valley (UWBV) and the College Station sisters who founded the literacy program “Books & A Blanket” have announced UWBV will become the administrator.

Harper Cunningham was 10 years old and Maggie Cunningham was eight when they started the effort. Ten years later, Books & A Blanket has distributed more than 180,000 books and more than 17,000 blankets

UWBV vice president Peggi Goss says this fits nicely under their early literacy efforts that includes seasonal book giveaways.

Harper Cunningham, who is graduating from Consolidated High School, is joining the United Way board as an ex-officio member. The rest of the Cunningham family is in the process of moving to Florida.

Click below for comments from Peggi Goss, visiting with WTAW’s Bill Oliver:

Listen to “United Way of the Brazos Valley is assuming administration of the "Books & A Blanket" literacy program” on Spreaker.

News release from United Way of the Brazos Valley:

Books & A Blanket, the local nonprofit organization founded in 2012 by then 10-year-old, Harper Cunningham and her then eight-year-old sister, Maggie, announces that they are transitioning leadership of the organization to United Way of the Brazos Valley. The Books & a Blanket program will become a part of United Way’s Early Literacy Program and continue to provide books and a blanket to area children.

Over the course of 10 years, Books & A Blanket grew from a 10-year-old girl’s idea to an organization dedicated to giving every child access to books at home. The organization garnered national attention when sisters, Harper and Maggie, were featured on The Today Show in 2014. Harper and Maggie have also been awarded a Daily Point of Light award from President Bush’s Points of Light organization in 2015 and the Jefferson Award in 2016.

Harper Cunningham will be graduating from A&M Consolidated High School later in the month and attending the University of Texas in the fall. Additionally, the Cunningham family is in the process of relocating to Florida. The whole family wanted to ensure that the vision of Harper and Maggie lived on in the Brazos Valley, even after their departure.

Harper Cunningham will be appointed as an Ex-Officio member by United Way of the Brazos Valley’s Board of Directors in June where she will be able to remain involved in the strategic direction of the program she built for so many years.

The leadership transition will be celebrated with a Ribbon Cutting event on Thursday, June 2, at 4:30 p.m. at the United Way of the Brazos Valley offices located at 1716 Briarcrest Dr., Suite 155, Bryan, TX. This event was rescheduled from May 5 due to weather interruptions.

The following is a letter from Harper to the Brazos Valley community in regards to this transition:

As I look back on the past 10 years of Books and a Blanket, I am so proud of the growth of the organization, how much my sister and I grew in our understanding of how to help others, and how in-awe I am by the amount of support our community gave our simple idea.

It would have been impossible to give out over 180,000 books to children and over 17,000 blankets without the support of many of you today. KBTX News 3 made our commercials, Blue Baker made book shaped cookies and donated the profits, The Eagle helped get the word out, Half Price Books donated books, the Gilreaths (along with the BlueBonnet Quilt Guild) made hundreds of quilts each year, the Etheridge Family donated monthly, and Twin Oaks Landfill gave us a space twice a year to collect books. These and so many more partnerships and relationships played a huge role in ensuring children had access to books with a warm blanket in their home. These organizations were part of Books & a Blanket for 10 years!

My dream for Books & a Blanket is to continue giving books to kids. We often hear from children that they cannot wait to get books each year. I am going off to college next year and that means we need new leadership to keep bringing books to the children in our community. I am thrilled and honored to announce that United Way of the Brazos Valley will be taking over Books & a Blanket to continue our mission of providing literacy and well-being for all, right here in the Brazos Valley!

So, thank you for listening to two little girls who truly believed it was unfair that not all children had access to books.
United Way of the Brazos Valley’s President and CEO, Alison Prince said, “We have always enjoyed working with Maggie, Harper and the Cunningham Family. As we launched our Early Literacy work in 2016, they were mentors to us. Now to be trusted to lead their vision into the future is such an honor for United Way.”