NEIGHBORS>> Buried in books
By Brian Rodriguez
Leader staff writer
The Ward Public Library on Friday ended its summer reading program with a bang, getting a $500 donation from First Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round-Up program.
Ward librarian Venessa Ford said she had originally asked for items for grab bags when she went to pay her utility bill at First Electric. She was told about Operation Round-Up.
The program is funded by First Electric customers who allow the company to round their utility bills up to the nearest whole dollar amount for a tax-deductible donation. The donation, averaging 50 cents per month or $6 per year, is held in a trust account that funds donations to local non-profit organizations.
“That’s who we want to donate to,” said Jacksonville district manager Bill Devos, “groups that help the community.”
Ford said $400 of the grant would be used to purchase books requested by patrons, and the remaining $100 would be put toward a new encyclopedia fund.
The donation was presented during a party to celebrate the end of the Dragons, Dreams, and Daring Deeds summer reading program for children from birth to 16 years of age.
There were 55 participants who turned in their reading logs for a total of 1,724 books read in one month, an average of 31 books per child.
Ford credited the parents for reading to the younger children and for making sure their children had a way to get to the summer reading program.
“The parents have been real good because if it wasn’t for them bringing their kids, it wouldn’t have been such a success,” she said. “They’re unbelievable, what they’ve done with their children.”
Grab bags were given to each participant Friday at an end-of-the summer reading program with special recognition given to the children who read the most books in each age group.
The top readers included Christina Babbs with 13 books in the 14-16-year-old category; Faith Ford with 101 books in the 11-13-year-old category; Logan Cle-mons with 106 books in the 6-10-year-old category, and Trystan Smith with 65 books in the birth to 5-year-old category.
Operation Round-Up has made nearly 200 contributions totaling more than $181,000 since it was created in 1998.
Ford wanted to thank all the businesses that contributed to the reading party, which included parents, Little Caesar’s, Pizza Pro, Domino’s Pizza, More than Manna food bank, McDonald’s, Frito Lay, Dixie Café, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Tasty Freeze, Sonic, Western Sizzlin,’ Ron Campbell Ford and Com-munity Bank.