Thursday is the date for the fifth annual Bookcase Literacy Banquet to benefit a Conway original program that provides local children with bookcases and starter libraries.
The Conway Bookcase Project, started in 2005 by volunteers under the direction of Jim Davidson, provides pre-school children in low income families with personalized oak bookcases and a library of about a dozen age specific books.
Each year’s 50 recipients are children in the local Head Start program and the Conway Housing Authority.
Funds raised through ticket sales will be used to purchase wood and supplies to build the bookcases, and a portion will be set aside as seed money for bookcase programs starting in other communities.
Davidson said similar programs are now established in nine communities in five states.
“These projects, in turn, provide the seed money for other projects, thus enabling the bookcase project to spread nationwide…,” Davidson said.
The bookcases are distributed in the spring at a community event that highlights the importance of literacy.
Presenters each year encourage the children’s parents or guardians to pledge to read often with the children and add books to their libraries.
“Statistics tell us 61 percent of low income families in America do not have books in the home for children to read,” Davidson said. “I think a reason a lot of kids drop out of school is their lack of a foundation for reading, language and vocabulary.”
Davidson said the practice to improve literacy should begin early and requires help.
“Someone has to work at it with you, and the earlier a child starts, the better off they are,” he said.
The banquet is a key component to the program, according to Davidson.
“This is the opportunity to bring the whole community together, to make them aware of this program and to enlist their help,” he said.
This year’s banquet takes place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Bob Courtway Middle School cafeteria. Tickets are $15.95 for single tickets, and $125 for a table of eight.
A menu of grilled sausage, spaghetti and sides will be served to attendees.
Entertainment for the banquet will be provided by an ensemble from the Conway Women’s Chorus. The group is in a four-year project commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Davidson said the presentation includes music and short monologues based on the biographies of women who lived through that period of the nation’s history.
To date, the Conway Bookcase Project has provided 400 bookcases and starter sets of books to area children.
Committee members are Jim Davidson, Mickey Cox, Nancy Mitchell, Ruth Voss, Dr. Tammy Benson, Linda Hammontree, Mary Boyd, Dr. Amanda Moore, Archie Musselman, Dr. Larry Pillow, Cliff Garrison, Dr. Charlotte Green, Senator Stanley Russ, Jerry Glover and Linda Linn.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)