It was great to see Peg Downing’s smiling face at a CLiF presentation again — even if it was just her photo. I held up the lovely 8 x 10 picture of Peg and looked out at a crowd of eager young faces. “This is my friend Peg. Can you all say ‘Hi!’ to Peg?” Seventy five kids waved and called out “Hi Peg!”

I explained that the day’s two CLiF presentations were in memory of Peg who loved kids, books, and reading. I placed her photo on the table amid all the beautiful new books, facing the excited children. She had the best seat in the house.

We were at the Penacook Community Center in Penacook, NH, a stone’s throw from where Peg and her husband Kevin lived for many years. Peg was an active and beloved member of CLiF’s Board of Advisors for 11 years. Earlier this year Peg succumbed to cancer much too young. She and Kevin suggested that gifts in her memory should be made to CLiF. So many of Peg’s friends and family members made donations to CLiF that we were able to sponsor four separate Summer Readers events in her memory — three in Penacook and one in Concord — for 200 children.

Penacook children listen to Duncan’s story during an event held in Peg’s memory

Through CLiF’s Summer Readers program we partner with camps, summer food programs, community centers, and other groups that serve a high percentage of low-income or at-risk children. We strive to energize kids to read outside of school and prevent a lull or ‘summer slide’ in reading comprehension. At each event a professional CLiF presenter talks with children about the power and joy of books, reading, and writing. We find out what kinds of books the children like to read, highlight many of the hundreds of new books we bring with us, and read the children a fun, interactive story. Then, each child is able to select any two new books of his or her choice to keep.

Peg’s husband Kevin, her college friend Robin, and her brother Tim all attended events held in Peg’s memory. Afterward, Tim commented: “The looks in the children’s eyes during the storytelling was only bettered by the sparkle that accompanied that look when they learned they were able to take two books home with them to keep! At that moment I knew why Peg had dedicated her life to children’s literacy and why I had driven 3 hours to attend. Keep up the great work CLiF!”

Peg Downing’s husband Kevin Hunt and friend Robin Cross at a Summer Readers event in Peg’s memory

Please contact Katie Titterton to learn more about making a gift to CLiF in honor (e.g., birthday, anniversary, holiday) or in memory of a special person in your life. You (and they) will be glad you did!

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CLiF has served over 350,000 children since 1998.

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