Thanks to the collaboration between the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, D-6440, and Chicago O’Hare Rotary Club, D-6450, each of about 400 children attending Sunny Hill Elementary School in Carpentersville now have blankets, pillowcases and vanity kits.
The donation idea came from Digital Age Learning Bilingual Coach Nirda DeRose who noticed that students of poverty do not often have their own special reading blanket. DeRose felt that if students at Sunny Hill could be provided with a personal reading blanket, reading for pleasure might increase. 
DeRose shared her idea with Kris Young and Narayan Muraka of the Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club, who turned the idea into reality. Muraka collaborated with Rotarians Patricia and Jack Ranttila of the Chicago O’Hare Rotary Club who were able to provide extra inventory from United Airlines that was no longer needed.

“We are grateful to be able to help the students of Sunny Hill through this unique initiative, and are appreciative of the partnership provided by the Chicago O’Hare Rotary Club,” said BBRC President Maria Coons. 
BBRC members Steve Hollis, Mike Martinez, Mary Holcomb, Lew Parks and Jack Caldwell loaded a van from a warehouse near O’Hare and delivered the items to Sunny Hill School in April. A distribution ceremony was held on April 11 for students to pick up their blankets and vanity kits.
“The dissemination of the blankets and toiletry kits will be connected to our ‘bedtime stories’ School Improvement Plan (SIP) event. During this event, students curl up in a cozy spot and listen to teachers read. We are optimistic that attendance at this year’s annual event will be increased by the provision of each child’s individual, cuddly blue blanket!” said Sunny Hill Principal Cynthia Armendariz-Maxwell.
The pillowcases provided by the Rotary Clubs will be disseminated at the end of the school year, filled with books for each student to take home for summer reading. Research has shown that students of poverty suffer a negative “summer slide” of reading proficiency loss. Armendariz-Maxwell is hopeful that the books and blankets provided to students will improve student outcomes.
“As each child leaves Sunny Hill on May 31, clutching his or her pillowcase of books, we hope to lessen the loss of reading proficiency by adding to our students’ home libraries during the summer months,” she said.