Community Voices: Please, do the right thing

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Beverly Donchez Bradley is the president of Cops ‘n’ Kids Children’s Literacy Program. She can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone. 

I am a retired educator, having taught for more than 30 years. Currently, I am president of an award-winning literacy initiative called the Cops ‘n’ Kids Children’s Literacy Program. 

This remarkable effort has been recognized for its impact in our community, in the state of Pennsylvania, in the country and in the world—distributing more than one million free books thus far to children and adults.

This has all been made possible, in large part, because we have been joined by an army of thoughtful young people.

These lovely human beings organize book drives, visit schools to read to children, help coordinate community events and do whatever is necessary to bring the gift of literacy to those less fortunate and to help us in our mission of “connecting kids and community through literacy.”

The experiences I have had over the last 40 years provide me with a unique perspective.  

Having spent so much of my life working with some of the most impressive young adults one could possibly imagine, I continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness, compassion and commitment I witness on a daily basis on the part of students from virtually all of our local colleges and high schools.  

These inspiring individuals enrich my life and have done the same for the lives of thousands of children in our community and beyond.

During this pandemic, we have continued with our efforts to get books into the hands of our community’s children, distributing more than 19,151 books and serving approximately 9,185 individuals. As a result of the restrictions imposed upon us all during this uncertain and dangerous time, we made a decision to create a virtual storytelling series of events.

This, too, is the direct result of the creativity and talent of local college students who rearranged their schedules for almost a year to tape and edit countless community volunteers—including many young people from our local high schools and colleges—to provide free, enlightening, and entertaining events for hundreds of families to access during this unsafe and restrictive time. 

Because I hold these young adults in such high esteem, I thought it was important to preface what I am about to say with that reality.

Surrounded by such beauty and dedication on the part of literally thousands of young people who partnered with us over the years to make a difference in the lives of our community’s children, I was rendered speechless when I read about local college students having a COVID party to celebrate, if what I read is to be believed, having tested positive for this frightening virus. 

I simply cannot get this reality out of my mind—especially when we just reached the devastating threshold of losing 500,000 human beings to this deadly disease.

Even when events of the day seem to point in a negative direction, the young people with whom I have had the privilege of working over the years have always given me hope for the future of our country and our world. 

Trying to comprehend the mindset of these intelligent and privileged young people who demonstrated a total lack of understanding of their responsibility with regard to what we are being asked to do to make it through to the other side of this pandemic is more than I can process.

There is so very much to be done to make life better for individuals of all ages who struggle each day to survive.  

To know there are young people who would choose to waste their time—and possibly lose their lives—in pursuit of such unproductive and destructive action is absolutely bewildering to me.  

My hope is that we will all take a moment to reflect on how we might make this world a better place—the future does, in fact, depend on our doing so. 

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