Twenty-three central Iowa organizations donated more than 40,000 books to United Way’s Stuff the Bus book drive, an increase of 10,000 books from last year’s event. The results were announced at a book drop-off event at Athene USA in West Des Moines on Monday.


In honor of National Children’s Book Week this week, all of the books will be distributed to child-serving programs, child care centers, and in-home child care providers in Dallas, Polk, and Warren Counties.


“The thousands of books we collected this week are critical to helping children in central Iowa succeed,” said Elisabeth Buck, president of United Way of Central Iowa. “Nearly two-thirds of kids in low-income homes do not have children’s books. Having access to books is key to helping all kids learn how to read, and ultimately, to graduate from high school. We are hugely grateful to the thousands of individuals who donated books and the many generous organizations who hosted book drives, especially Athene, our event sponsor, which doubled the amount of books collected this year.”


“Athene is proud to once again sponsor the Stuff the Bus program in partnership with United Way,” said Grant Kvalheim, CEO and president of Athene USA. “Approximately one-fourth of third graders in Central Iowa are not reading at their grade level – which is the number one predictor of whether a child will graduate from high school. Athene employees believe every child deserves an education to give them the opportunity to reach their potential. Last year, Athene alone collected more than 9,000 educational-based children’s books to support this program and I’m proud to announce our employees surpassed our stretch goal and donated nearly 18,500 books that will directly impact children of our community.”


Stuff the Bus is an annual event that has collected nearly 150,000 books for central Iowa children over eight years. The event is part of READ to SUCCEED, United Way’s call to action to engage the whole community in helping students read at grade level by third grade.


Organizations were invited to sign up to host book drives and to collect new and gently used books. Employees were especially encouraged to donate non-fiction, STEM-related, or bilingual books. Books donated will go to all ages, from birth to high school.


About United Way of Central Iowa


United Way of Central Iowa fights for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. For over 100 years United Way of Central Iowa has brought together nonprofits, businesses, government, community leaders, volunteers, and more to identify and tackle central Iowa’s toughest challenges. Focusing on issues such as early grade reading, poverty, mental and social health, high school graduation, and career training, United Way of Central Iowa inspires central Iowans to give, advocate, and volunteer to improve lives and empower all in our community. For more information about United Way of Central Iowa, visit www.unitedwaydm.org.


About Athene USA


Athene USA is an Iowa-domiciled corporation that serves as the U.S. holding company for Athene’s annuity operations in the United States. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, Athene USA serves customers in all 50 states, and through its predecessor companies, has been serving American consumers for more than 100 years.