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February 19, 2015

Maggie & Kate: The next generation of philanthropists

Do you remember what you wanted for your eleventh birthday? A new outfit? The coolest new action hero, maybe?

Two young philanthropists from Denver, Maggie and Kate Petersen, decided that for their birthday, giving was better than receiving.

Since second grade, the twin sisters have asked friends and family to donate to a nonprofit of their choosing instead of giving presents for their birthdays. While this tradition began at the suggestion of their mother, both girls explained they were so overwhelmed with the joy of giving, they knew that they wanted to do it for every birthday. Eleven-year-old, Kate explains,

If you give back as a kid, then you’ll be more likely to give back as an adult which will make the world a better place.

According to their mother, Colleen Petersen, Kate and Maggie are avid readers. Colleen says the girls are so passionate about reading that she often has to remind them “they shouldn’t walk and read at the same time” because they could get hurt.

It was their passion for books and stories that inspired Kate and Maggie to donate books to Reading Partners’ students on their 11th birthday.

It’s easy to see Maggie and Kate’s excitement for reading. Kate explains that she especially “loves how books make [her] think,” and that her favorite genre is mystery and adventure because of the journeys they take her on. Some of Maggie’s favorite stories come from her favorite author, Roald Dahl. Maggie loves how she and Kate have different tastes in books because they are able to share with each other and bond over their favorite stories.

Colleen says that reading has become a natural part of their home life, describing, “you can find us all reading at the dinner table some nights.”

Colleen watches Maggie and Kate express their own individuality through the types of stories and books each girl reads. She stresses how the benefits of reading go beyond the development of academic skills, and advocates that reading opens and broadens the mind regardless of age, giving perspective on different cultures and allowing us to dream up different worlds.

Giving the gift of reading

Maggie explains,

We wanted to give back to kids closer to our age, because we know sometimes reading isn’t as much of a focus in the classroom in older grades.

They were especially motivated by Eric, a Reading Partners student whose reading scores accelerated one-and-a-half grade levels by the end of his year with Reading Partners.

Maggie and Kate raised $685 in Barnes and Noble gift cards and $120 cash to support Reading Partners’ take reading home program! This will allow nearly 100 Colorado students to start building their home libraries and pursuing their love for reading outside of the classroom, just like Maggie and Kate.

Despite their young age, these twin sisters are keenly aware of the importance of giving back to their community.

Reading Partners Colorado is beyond thankful to be the beneficiaries of these two girls’ generosity and is proud to have them as advocates for Colorado’s struggling readers.

When asked if they would consider volunteering with Reading Partners in the future, Colleen exclaimed, “they’ve already looked into signing up!”

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