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United Way Reading Buddies

$5 Puts a Reading Buddy in a childs lap!

What is the I Need a Hug Program?

The United Way I Need a Hug program was developed in 2003 by the United Way Regional Volunteer Center in partnership with the Valparaiso Softball Team.  Throughout the year, new, small stuffed animals are collected by businesses, groups, churches, book clubs, boards, and schools as well as local campus wide drives.  These animals are given to the Guidance Counselors in our elementary schools to be used as counseling tools and to 1st and 2nd grade students to be used as reading buddies. Each student reads aloud to their "buddy" for a minimum for 15 minutes a day. United Way I Need a Hug is currently in 106 classrooms throughout Northwest Indiana.

Supporting Data

Evaluation conducted by David Pratt:

How You Can Help:

This year we need to collect 2,000 new, cuddly, stuffed animals (approximately 12”- 16” tall. You can help your community by:

- Hosting a drive at your company, church, or organization.
- Volunteering! Each stuffed animal needs to be prepared for the next school year. Find out more about volunteering to “bag and tag!”
- Making a monetary donation. For only $5.00, you can put a reading buddy in the lap of a second grader. Make checks payable to the United Way of Porter County with I Need a Hug on the memo line, or give through the PayPal button below!

Questions? Ready to host a drive?

Fill out the Host a Drive Flyer and send it back! You can also contact Mackenna Dickt, Porter Co. Volunteer Coordinator at or 219-464-3583.