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Touchdown for Reading

With help from the Jacksonville Jaguars Owners' Circle, the Jaguars Foundation and First Book, 250,000 new books will be given to thousands of children in need. The book distribution is part of the "Touchdown for Reading" initiative by sponsored the Jaguars Owners' Circle to promote reading and improve literacy on the First Coast.

The books were distributed on October 28 at the Duval County Teacher's Depot. Mayor John Peyton, Jacksonville Jaguars Co-Owner and Chair/CEO of the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation Delores Barr Weaver, First Book's Lidia Soto-Harmon along with mascot JAXSON de VILLE handed out books to children during the event.

Several Jaguars players and members of The ROAR loaded boxes of books into the vehicles of waiting agencies which included Community Connections, Communities in Schools, Wolfson Children's Hospital and The Bridge of Northeast Florida. The agencies will deliver the books to the children they serve.

Delores Barr Weaver, thanked First Book and Simon & Schuster for bringing so many books to children in need in our community, adding, "The Jaguars Foundation believes that every child should have books in their lives. By encouraging children to read, we are empowering and improving future lives -- an investment in books is an investment in the future of America."

The Owners' Circle is made up of the major corporate partners of the Jaguars, including ALLTEL, Baptist Health, Clear Channel Television, Coggin Automotive Group, Cox Communications, Pepsi, Wachovia and Winn-Dixie.

The books were donated by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing and provided by the First Book National Book Bank, a centralized donation and distribution agent that enables publishers to donate books and related products to established, community-based programs.

The goal of First Book is to provide children from low-income families with books that they can take home and keep, the book distribution targets the only variable that correlates significantly with reading scores, the number of books in the home. According to the statistics, sixty-one percent of low-income families have no books for children in their homes which is critical to reading development. Furthermore, eighty percent of childcare centers serving low-income children lack age-appropriate books and other print materials.

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