READING REINDEER: Give the gift of books through Community Health Centers

The Orange Observer is collecting new books for children from birth to age 17 to be delivered to those in need just before the holidays.

  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • News
  • Share

Community Health Centers has served as a community partner and health advocate for needy families since 1972.

CHC provides quality and compassionate primary healthcare services to insured, uninsured, underinsured and underserved children and adults in Central Florida and including West Orange and Southwest Orange counties. CHC accepts Medicaid, Medicare and most private insurance plans and has a sliding discount program for those with or without insurance. The nonprofit organization provides a number of primary health care services — family medicine, pediatrics, dental, OB/GYN, internal medicine, behavioral health, pharmacy and two new services, optometry and telemedicine — to nearly 70,000 patients each year.

The Winter Garden center has been a book recipient through Observer Media Group’s Reading Reindeer literacy campaign for more than a decade, and thousands of children have benefited from the gift of reading.

“Our patients ages 6 months to 6 years get to take home a book during their well visit,” said John Riordan, director of marketing and community relations. “We also participate in the national Reach Out and Read program, which allows us to purchase the books at a reduced rate. We encourage the parents of our patients to read to their children at an early age and continue.

“Parents reading to their children helps build a bond between child and parent and helps with their cognitive developmental skills, language skills, concentration, imagination and creativity,” Riordan said. “Reading at an early age puts children in a trajectory of academic success.”



CHC was incorporated as a nonprofit health organization under the name West Orange Farmworkers Health Association. It secured a federal grant and opened a clinic in a trailer donated by the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. 

The original staff consisted of only a nurse’s aide, a medical director and an administrative director.

Bishop Borders Satellite Health Center opened in 1976 to serve farmworkers and residents in the Winter Garden area. Dental care also was provided. That same year West Orange Farmworkers Health Association became a comprehensive primary care model, expanding to include pharmacy, laboratory and dental services.

Dental care and maternity services were added in 1979, with additional facility improvements, including expanded dental, X-ray and pharmacy services.

WOFHA received accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization in 1989, and the name was changed to Community Health Centers Inc.

The nonprofit extends its services beyond health care, embracing its role as a community partner in residents’ overall wellness, including physical, mental and educational health.

“We love sharing the books with our pediatric patients and their family,” Riordan said. “The children and parents are very grateful to receive a book during their visit. … We give out thousands of books to children each year, and we are very appreciative to Observer Media Group and (its) readership for generously donating books. … Our children and families love the books.”



Observer Media Group is counting on the generous West Orange community to join the newspaper in supporting its 25th year of collecting and delivering new books to children at Christmastime.

The deadline to donate books for children from birth to age 17 is Dec. 1. Checks payable to Reading Reindeer can be sent to the West Orange Times & Observer, 661 Garden Commerce Parkway, Suite 180, Winter Garden, FL 34787.

This year’s book distribution list includes needy children served by the West Orange Christian Service Center; Winter Garden, Ocoee and Oakland police departments; Community Health Centers; and Edgewood Children’s Ranch.

If your club, church, civic group, Scout troop or school has not selected a Christmas charity or project, consider donating books or funds to the drive.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

Latest News