MACON – High school students in Macon-Bibb County are doing their part to inspire summer reading through Mercer University's Upward Bound Program.
Local 10th-graders participating in the program collected nearly 300 gently used children's books over the past three months to donate to disadvantaged families who may not have Internet access or transportation to the local library.
Upward Bound and the University have teamed up with United Way of Central Georgia to collect these books for the United Way Day of Action book fair this Saturday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., at the Buck Melton Community Center. One of the goals of this event is for each child who attends to receive a book for his or her own personal library
"I am proud of the administrative staff and our students. The genuineness of our staff in their efforts to motivate and empower each of the students to be their best and move beyond themselves is remarkable," said Dr. Michelle Currie, director of Mercer's Federal TRIO Programs, which include Upward Bound. "I want to thank Latanya Foster, who led this project, and the students, who listened to their adviser and desired to help serve the community."
Upward Bound is a federally funded program that seeks to support participants in their preparation for postsecondary education. The program serves high school students from low-income families and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree. For more information, contact Dr. Currie at (478) 301-2686.
In addition to Upward Bound's donation, Mercer faculty, staff and students collected another 450 books for the Day of Action through the placement of donation boxes by the University's United Way Campaign Steering Committee at three locations on campus – Jack Tarver Library, the Walter F. George School of Law lobby and the School of Medicine Library.
"Collaborating on this project with the United Way seemed to embody Mercer's mission to teach, to learn, to create, to discover, to inspire, to empower and to serve," said Rhonda Lidstone, associate vice president for human resources at Mercer and the University's United Way campaign chair. "On behalf of the steering committee, I want to thank the staff within our libraries and across campus that enthusiastically responded to the call to donate books and volunteer at the Day of Action event."
When the donations were dropped off at the Buck Melton Community Center on Wednesday afternoon, AmeriCorps VISTA and Early Learning Network Coordinator Justin Wiggins said the center had received approximately 4,000 books and expected several other large donations prior to Saturday's event.
"We want to get these books into homes," said Wiggins. "Research has shown that children in median-income families have 13 books per household, while among low-income families there is one book per 300 children. This is our way of tackling this literacy issue in Macon-Bibb County."