Wichita Police officers will be making the rounds in neighborhoods next month to deliver books.
The Building Bridges Through Books program is a partnership between the Wichita Police Department and Watermark Books and Café.
Police officers will drop off free books for all ages with a family and then follow up a few weeks later with a community gathering and book discussion.
Watermark owner Sarah Bagby says the officers will be reading the books as well.
"When a book is read, loved and discussed, there’s a certain bridge that’s built between a reader and another reader, and they connect together," Bagby says. "That’s our objective here."
The goal is to elevate literacy skills and create a connection between Wichita Police officers and the communities they serve. There will be three book distributions over the next year.
Bagby says they selected books for all age groups based on entertainment value and quality of writing.
“We’ve all heard stories of books changing lives," Bagby says. "Books are shared, they’re cherished, they’re banned, they’re appreciated.”
Wichita Police spokesman Charley Davidson says this program provides a positive opportunity for officers to engage with residents.
"Unfortunately, most of the time, police contact is during a crisis," Davidson says. "People are calling 911, and officers are responding to emergencies. This is an opportunity for us to build bridges through books, for us to connect through reading these books."
The Wichita Community Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to fund the Building Bridges Through Books program.
About 14,000 informational postcards went out across Wichita this week. Anyone interested in participating needs to register through Watermark Books.
The program is limited, and first come, first served. The deadline to sign up for free books through Watermark Books is July 25.
The first book drop is set to take place in mid-to-late August.
Correction: A previous version of the story stated the Wichita Community Foundation provided a $160,000 grant to fund the Building Bridges Through Books program. They provided $50,000.
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