NEWFANE — About 1,000 books were donated to students at a special event at Newfane Early Childhood Center on Tuesday morning. 

Students from the Pre-K and kindergarten programs lined up on the gymnasium floor to take hold of their gifts.

The giveaway at NECC served as the kick-off of Ohana100’s “ WNY Go! Read” campaign, through which 20,000 books are donated to schools throughout Western New York between February and March.

Newfane district Superintendent Michael Baumann addressed the students and Ohana100 representatives briefly at the beginning of the giveaway.

“Reading is so important, as a foundation building block for all educational initiatives, and it’s just a wonderful opportunity for us,” Baumann said. “And it is an honor and a privilege to be partnering with Ohana100 and the folks there to be able to do this.”

Dr. David Mattson, president of Ohana100, told the students that “Ohana” is Hawaiian for “family” and during family gatherings stories are told. 

Mattson, who was born and raised in Hawaii, said Ohana100’s mission is to promote early childhood literacy. He and his wife founded the organization in 2013, as a means of giving back to the community. Mattson is a radiation oncologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

“My wife and I felt that we were blessed and fortunate to have everything that we have, the opportunities and experience,” he said. “Just being as comfortable as we were, we wanted to share some of what we could with other people.”

Mattson said he chose Newfane to host the WNY Go! Read campaign kickoff because the district is “so welcoming and supportive.”

“It just felt they were perfect to have our kickoff event today,” Mattson said.

In addition to getting books into children’s hands, Ohana100 dispatches volunteers to read to children on a monthly basis. For more information about the organization, check out ohana100.org .