Learn How 2 Children Made a Difference in their Community

McKenna and Brenda Philippe stand in front of the books they collected.

Day of Action volunteers McKenna and Brendan Philippe pose with books collected by students at McKenna’s school, Rockwell Elementary in Bristol.


Brother and Sister

“I want people to love my books,” exclaims four-year-old Brendan Philippe. “We only give the books we love and they will love,” he says, explaining his reason for donating to United Way of Rhode Island’s annual Children’s Book Drive.

Brendan’s big sister, six-year-old McKenna, is a student at Rockwell Elementary School in Bristol; her school collected more than 500 books during their annual Reading Week celebration.

McKenna believes it’s important for children to volunteer, “it’s nice to help others,” she explains. “I learned giving is better than receiving because you feel good when you give.”

On a humid Saturday morning in June, the Philippe family arrive at United Way’s annual Day of Action. The siblings help their mother unload a dozen cardboard boxes from the car; afterward, the family stays to volunteer.

Along with 139 other volunteers, they sort, label, and package 21,736 books — books collected during the Children’s Book Drive, which began two months earlier.

Women United

Among the volunteers, members of Women United serve as table leaders. Dressed in bright blue t-shirts, their management helps volunteers maintain a smooth work-flow and proves instrumental to the event’s success.

Day of Action’s purpose closely aligns with Women United’s main focus, childhood literacy. The affinity group, which co-founded the Children’s Book Drive, raises money throughout the year in support of summer learning programs and grade-level reading initiatives that benefit local students. 

On this day, Women United members ensure each book is ready for the child it’s heading to.    

Business Community

Many Rhode Island businesses have a long history of helping the community by partnering with United Way. They encourage their employees to volunteer on a regular basis, some even host annual corporate volunteer days.

At this year’s Day of Action: some companies have teams of employees eager to volunteer, some make generous donations, and some do both. Regardless of their level of participation, local companies play a major role in helping us help the community.

We would like to thank the following companies for their help during this year’s Day of Action:

Day of Action Photo Gallery


By Jason Boulay, Communications Coordinator, UWRI
Read more stories about Rhode Islanders helping Rhode Islanders.