Sappi Grant Publishes Children's Book on Diversity and Inclusion for Westbrook, Maine Schools

Sep 24, 2019 4:15 PM ET
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Through the Employee Ideas that Matter program, Sappi employees bring their charitable ideas to life. Employees apply for direct funding to the nonprofit organizations that they are most passionate about, and the winners share $25,000 in corporate giving to support their selected causes. Funding can be used in many ways—from financing a project, sponsoring a trail cleanup, or providing new equipment or supplies.

Dale Leroux and Don Davidson fulfilled a lifelong dream of creating a children’s book focused on diversity by writing The Rainbow Rescue more than 20 years ago. The book was never published until this year, when Sappi provided an Employees Ideas that Matter grant to the Westbrook Maine Children’s Project to publish 500 copies of the book. Sappi also donated the paper for the printing.

The Westbrook Children’s Project is a program of the United Way of Greater Portland that brings community resources together to help children through their school years. The Project donated 300 copies of The Rainbow Rescue to the Westbrook Maine Community Center and Westbrook schools. Each fourth-grade student in the Westbrook school district will receive a copy. Additional copies will be donated to other school libraries in the area.

The Rainbow Rescue tells the story of a witch who uses her power to drain all color from the village of Uppygoo. “I was trying to teach my then-young daughters about inclusion, acceptance and not judging a person by the color of their skin,” Dale says. “We wanted to create a story that said it is okay to be different,” Don added. The book tells a heartwarming story with an important message about diversity and inclusion.

Dale, who is a Quality Tester in Ultracast at Sappi’s Westbrook Mill—and also works as an editorial cartoonist at a local newspaper—drew the illustrations for the book. He came up with the idea of creating a children’s book in 1995 and reached out to Don who wrote the text. Don, his friend and co-worker of 36 years, retired from his position as an Ultracast Coater in 2016.

Although written and copyrighted over 20 years ago, the story’s themes of acceptance and diversity are timeless and relevant to the Westbrook community. Dale and Don chose to share the story in print rather than digital form, noting that the book printed on Sappi’s best printing paper ideally shows off the color and “pop” of the illustrations, providing a more tangible and appealing channel to reach the children who will read it. Dale and Don created handmade copies of their book years ago for their own children and grandchildren, but this project provides an opportunity to formally publish their work and share it with a larger audience for the first time.

Read more from Sappi North America's 2018 Sustainability Report here: tiny.cc/SappiNA_SR18