The Book People of First United Methodist Church in Hillsville handed out the first free books to students Monday at Oakland Elementary School.
The group has set a goal of becoming known for distributing books throughout Carroll County, free of charge. Project Facilitator Susan Fairhust said Pastor Robert Smith approached her with the idea of a book ministry with a goal of donating a book to every child in Carroll County (in grades K through 12).
“I remember the idea for this ministry came to me from a television program which stated that no child should be without a book,” said Smith. Smith was joined by fellow Rotarian Jane Munsey, who is also a Lions Club member. Other Lions present Monday to read to students included Jerry and Shirley Varn and Fairhurst.
Smith said the bags of donated books taken to the school were a beginning. He said Fairhurst “had really taken the bull by the horns and run with it.”
“I’m so excited about this. They (the students) all love books,” said Oakland Library Media Specialist Gail Turpin. “They get to come to the library at least once a week. Kindergarten students get to check out a book and are rewarded when they bring it back by getting to check out another. They get upset if they forget they’re book and can’t check one out.”
She said, contrary to what is seen on movies and television, children still love books and the effort’s ability to make a personal link between book and student is a powerful connection. She said volunteers reading to students shows children you’re never too old for books, and adults’ enthusiasm is contagious.
First grade student Maddason Bobbitt, (who is in Teacher Amy Gordon’s class), said reading books is her favorite thing and she likes to imagine she is doing the things characters do. She said her personal favorite is “Green Eggs and Ham” and she also has a copy of “The Cat in the Hat.” Classmate Noah Shockley said his favorite book is “Pete the Cat” and he likes reading “because it’s cool.” He said he also likes to imagine he is going on adventures just like the characters in the stories.
Fairhurst said the group is looking for donations of new and gently-used books and will rely on the cooperation and guidance from the Carroll County School district as books are given out class by class from school to school. Around 150 books were involved in Monday’s effort. The books will be given out, free of charge, to children ages 4 years to 18. Donations of religious-themed books will be available at the Pantry.
Books will also be collected for younger ages to be given to children who come to the Carroll County Ministerial Association Food Pantry at the FUMC in Hillsville. The books become the property of the child unless they wish to return it to the classroom or Pantry in exchange for another book.
“Donations of money will be used to buy more books,” Fairhurst said. “All of my kids read. I always have a book with me and my family are all avid readers. Books change lives. They open your mind to so many possibilities.” The group has a Facebook page (The Book People of FUMC).
People who wish to donate books may drop them off by the church office. More information may be obtained by contacting Fairhurst at [email protected] The Church’s website is www.hillsvillefumc.com.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]