NEWS RELEASE: Clifford the Big Red Dog Brings Christmas to 600 Local Children


Clifford the Big Red Dog and volunteer Murrell Weissinger delivered books to 20 children at Little Tots Child Care Center in St. Augustine, Dec. 6, 2011.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – PUTNAM AND ST. JOHNS COUNTIES, Fla., Dec. 8, 2011 – More than 600 local 3-year-olds received an early Christmas gift from Clifford the Big Red Dog and his friends at the Early Learning Coalition of Putnam and St. Johns Counties.

The ELC has just wrapped up its first ever book bag project specifically for 3-year-olds. Twenty six childcare centers, across Putnam and St. Johns County, were visited by Clifford the Big Red Dog and volunteers from the ELC. These centers were given book bags filled with a dozen books along with informative handouts for parents on the importance of reading.

“These three-year-olds and their families will have a dozen books to begin reading during a time when families are together,” said ELC Coordinator Joan Whitson. “We hope the family will help these young children make reading an important part of their lives.”

This project was a community effort with monetary and book donations from: St. Augustine Kiwanis Club, Sunrise Rotary in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Rotary, Sunrise Rotary in Palatka and Hastings Rotary Club. Additionally, a fundraising event, featuring Comedian Danny Johnson, was held at Jackie Knights Comedy Club in St. Augustine that raised $2,200 toward the project.

“Reading to children at an early age is crucial to their having the skills to be ready for school,” said ELC Fundraising Committee Chair Maxine McChesney. “This is going to be a yearly program for the ELC.”

Ongoing donations to the ELC are greatly appreciated. It costs $25 for one bag of books.  Visit to donate or to find out more about the services of the Early Learning Coalition.  Become a fan of the ELC on facebook at


# # #

Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Literacy Coordinator, [email protected], 904-819-3544