FORT MYERS, Fla. (Aug. 26, 2015) – Literacy is the key that unlocks an individual’s ability to learn, which is why the Junior League of Fort Myers, Inc. hosted a Leap Into Literacy event at the Literacy Council Gulf Coast on Saturday, Aug. 15.

“This was our first year of hosting the Leap Into Literacy event in partnership with the Literacy Council Gulf Coast, and the response we received from the community was phenomenal,” said Junior League Literacy Outreach Chair Kristine Smale. “This wasn’t just a backpack giveaway; we wanted to get kids excited for the new school year and show them that learning and reading is fun.”

According to Smale, children were divided into different age groups and spent two hours doing literacy related games and activities. Parents were also involved with their own activities and games, which gave them an opportunity to have fun and get to know one another better.

“It was truly a wonderful opportunity to serve our community, and given the smiles and laughter I saw and heard throughout the day, I believe everyone had a great time,” Smale added.

All children received a backpack with three books and school supplies. Children, ages 2 to 12, who are part of the Literacy Council Gulf Coast’s literacy programs, including its Moms & Tots and tutoring programs, as well as other local children who are interested in literacy were invited to attend.

The Literacy Council Gulf Coast is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to improving the English and reading skills of adults and children throughout cities in Lee, Hendry and North Collier counties, including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, LaBelle and Naples.

Since 1966, the Junior League of Fort Myers has contributed more than one million volunteer hours to community projects and programs.

To celebrate the Junior League’s 50th Anniversary in 2016, its members are encouraging all of Southwest Florida to join them in continuing their ongoing volunteer efforts. The challenge is simple. From June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016, the Junior League is asking adults to commit to volunteering 50 hours of community service and/or $50 to the local nonprofit(s) of their choice. Children, ages 6 to 16, are asked to donate 25 hours. Families are encouraged to take the challenge together if they wish. During this same time, JLFM members will also commit to completing 50 community service projects.

Participants may commit to the challenge and track their hours by downloading a form on the Junior League’s website at At the end of the year, the Junior League will hold a celebration honoring all participants with a certificate and commemorative pin next May.

Through the decades, the JLFM has made major contributions to Southwest Florida to support a wide variety of community needs, including founding the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, the Volunteer Service Bureau – Volunteer Action Center – now known as Volunteer Center Teen Court and the Women’s Resource Center. It has also been active in feeding the hungry in the five-county area through the food drive at the annual Taste of the Town event, mentoring teenage girls in foster care, supporting self defense for women, preparing women to re-enter the workforce, creating a listening library for cancer patients, preserving historic architecture, supporting the Ronald McDonald House, distributing holiday food baskets, organizing holiday gift drives, providing gender-specific programming to teenage girls in juvenile justice, supplying backpacks to children in Harlem Heights Community and more.

A member of the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., the Junior League of Fort Myers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1966 and made up of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The JLFM is also a granting organization, providing mini-grants to organizations throughout Southwest Florida’s five-county area to programs that create better life outcomes for our area’s youth. JLFM memberships are open to all women aged 21 and older of all races, religions and national origin who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism.

For more information, call 239-277-1197 or visit