For Alexis Thompson, major gifts manager at The Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command and a mother of two, the charity’s annual Summer Reading Program isn’t just an opportunity to execute on the organization’s mission of helping those in need. It’s a chance to provide for less fortunate children something that many others are lucky enough to take for granted: books.
Amber Mostyn took a personal interest in the reading program after learning about the plight of the women and children it serves. Recently, Amber Mostyn and her daughter collected and donated over one hundred books to the program. As co-founders of the Mostyn Moreno Foundation, both Amber and her husband Steve Mostyn are strong proponents of empowering those who are less fortunate.
“My family loves reading; books, magazines, audiobooks, newspapers, you name it! We read before bed almost every night. Our daughter’s favorite shopping trip is a bookstore,” said Amber. “So when we heard that there was such a simple, easy thing we could do to help other children experience the joy we get from reading, we were in!” The Mostyns came up with a plan. “The theme for my daughter’s birthday party was ‘Library.’ We collected used books from her guests, combined them with ours and donated them to the Salvation Army.”
The Summer Reading Program — now in its third year in Houston — serves women and children living in homeless shelters. Each Wednesday, volunteers, moms and kids gather to read together and enjoy a sense of normalcy, if only for a few fleeting hours.
“For some of these kids, the books they receive will be the first books that they’ve ever owned personally,” Thompson said. “As a mom of two small kids, we have more books than we can handle, so it’s heartbreaking to find that some of these kids have never owned their own books to hold and keep and read whenever they like.”
Each year, The Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command relies upon donations from individuals and organizations, like The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and Mostyn Law, in order to run the program.
“A lot of these families are coming from domestic violence situations, they’re coming from really terrible circumstances. They come in with the clothes on their backs and often not much more,” Thompson said. “If they had books at home, they certainly don’t have them anymore, and this is just giving them a little bit of their youth and childhood back and a little bit of that innocence.”
Previously, the Mostyns have sponsored numerous charitable events ranging from the Texas Special Needs Prom to an annual Christmas Lights Program, which helps children with special needs celebrate the Holidays by allowing them to pick out their own Christmas gifts. Most recently, Amber and Steve Mostyn’s gift of the Christi Stanley building to Special Olympics Texas has benefitted the organization and its many athletes.