Need a reason to shop?

Published 10:17 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It may be hard to believe, but there are only 72 days left until Christmas.

So, it’s never too soon to get started on your shopping lists.

The United Way of South Hampton Roads wants to help make that shopping experience that much easier, while also helping fund one of its biggest campaigns.

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The United Way is partnering with Belk’s Charity Day on Saturday, Nov. 15. The United Way will sell tickets for $5 per person for exclusive shopping privileges between the hours of 6 to 10 a.m. on that Saturday to the Belk Store in Suffolk on Main Street.

In return for the ticket, shoppers will have access to sale prices that are lower than the annual “After Thanksgiving Sale,” according to Belk staff.

Plus, once a shopper purchases a $5 ticket, they get the money back when they purchase their items at Belk. In other words, $5 will be taken off their first purchase, on top of 20 to 50 percent off of sale items.

The Charity Day is a one-day sale, and all of the proceeds from the ticket sales for the event will go to benefit the United Way. Specifically, every dollar raised will go towards Suffolk’s Race for Literacy, which benefits United Way’s literacy campaign.

“For every 20 tickets we sell, we can put one more child through the Raising a Reader Program,” Beth Cross, of the United Way of South Hampton Roads office, wrote in a statement to the News-Herald. “This program has had a tremendous impact on the developmental success of children and we want to make it accessible to as many kids as possible. Plus you get your $5 back at the register. It’s a win/win.”

According to United Way research, the functional illiteracy rate for Suffolk adults 18 years of age and above is 32 percent. This figure is well above the regional average of 27 percent and the state average of 19 percent.

To help combat these figures, the United Way offers its Raising a Reader program, which is a book bag program teaching parents, teachers and daycare providers how to share books with children. It is also a curriculum based program that is offered by Suffolk Public Schools to their 4-year-old head start students. In addition, United Way partner agencies like Children’s Harbor, The Children’s Center and the STOP organization, all utilize this learning curriculum for both the child and their parents.

For more information on the Raising a Reader program, or to get tickets for the Belk Charity Day, call 757-539-1498.