Learning Together celebrates Book-O-Ween, months after fire ripped through site

RALEIGH, NC — It has been an eventful year for Learning Together following an explosion and fire that moved the Raleigh non-profit to a different location. The 2nd Annual Book-O-Ween is more than a Halloween party; This year, it is a celebration of resilience for the school’s community.

Mary Kay Kennedy, Director of Development & Strategy at Learning Together, says she’s grateful no one was hurt back in June when a gas leak in the boiler room at the Crosby-Garfield building led to an explosion and fire. Staff and volunteers moved the pre-k developmental center’s school operations to a secondary location at Edenton Street, where they currently operate. “It was definitely a struggle to move 80 children into a new space in just a few months, while at the same time dealing with the grief of losing a place that was our home for over 30 years,” Kennedy said.

Learning Together’s Legacy

The service Learning Together provides goes beyond the families they directly serve. The model is designed to inspire lifelong learning based on empathy, creativity, inclusion, and dignity for people of all abilities and backgrounds; resulting in a population that can recognize and work against racism, ableism, and implicit bias in education, employment, and everyday life.

Learning Together Facts:

  • On average 65% of children enrolled are considered low income or living below poverty level.
  • 70% have developmental delays.
  • 60% are BIPOC.
  • Learning Together provides breakfast, lunch, and 2 snacks to each child everyday.
  • Staff and volunteers work directly with the Wake County Public School System which places students ages 3-5 with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) into preschool at no cost to the parents.
  • Staff works with the NC Department of Health and Human Services to help families with low-incomes receive childcare subsidies to cover their tuition costs.
  • 90% of Learning Together students enter kindergarten on the standard course of study.
  • 100% of students leave Learning Together with the understanding that people are different and different is good, accommodations are not special services, simply tools to help those with different needs, and everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Book-O-Ween

Open to the public, this FREE event offers a trick-or-treat experience for families to get books and candy. With the support of WakeUp and Read and Read and Feed, volunteers are giving away books for kids ages 0-18. Kennedy says of the 2021 event, “Last year’s Book-O-Ween event was a wonderful community event, and we had such good feedback from our families and community members. Families loved the variety and selection of books that were available. Our other community organizations provided resources ranging from dental care and mental health to jobs and housing.”

Where and When

  • Learning Together, 568 E. Lenoir Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Friday, October 28, 2022, 3:30pm-6:30pm

Costumes encouraged! Join the costume parade, get your face painted, make some art with Arts Access, and listen to a spooky story from the NC Storytelling Guild.

Kennedy says, “This is my favorite event at Learning Together. I love the partnerships with other community organizations, and I love the ability to put books into the hands of young learners. It is important for us to provide stability and routine for the children we serve. I am grateful for our partnership with Edenton Street United Methodist Church and all they have done to help ensure this event can continue.”

Current Needs

As Learning Together students and staff continue to settle into their new space and work to re-establish their primary location, the organization is accepting both financial donations and donations of items from teachers’ wish lists.

Kennedy invites all to join Learning Together at Book-O-Ween and says, “After all we have been through the past few months, it will mean so much to be able to gather with our community for an afternoon of joy and celebration,”

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