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June 10, 2016

Carolina Strong book drive aimed to honor Mother Emanuel victim

Originally published by Fox 54.
By Karina Bolster

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) – A month long event to honor one of the Mother Emanuel shooting victims kicks off Wednesday and it requires you to do a little spring cleaning

The Carolina Strong Book Drive honors and remembers Cynthia Graham Hurd.

Hurd worked for the Charleston County Public Library system for more than 30 years.

In May Hurd’s siblings created the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for Literacy and Civic Engagement. The foundation is now partnering with Reading Partners-Charleston, CCPL, and Live 5 WCSC to collect new and gently used children’s books at six library branches in Charleston County during June.

Cynthia’s brother, Malcolm, said his sister loved reading and sharing literature with people of all ages. She was dedicated to making sure every child has access to books, learned to read and developed a lifelong love for books and reading.

“She was very engaged in civic activities, outreach to people needed in improving their reading level,” said Andy Murphy, who works at the Dorchester Road Regional Library. “[She wanted to help] the general literacy problem that we face in the community.”

According to Reading Partners-Charleston, 80% of children living in poverty in South Carolina do not read at a proficient level.

The program tries to curb that statistic through one-on-one tutoring with students. The need for books though, is crucial, which is where the Carolina Strong book drive comes into play.

The books will be distributed through Reading Partners to elementary and pre-school students being tutored by the organization’s volunteers to help bring their reading skills up to grade level.

“Our mission is to foster a love of literacy and empower and engage students in a lifelong love of learning,” said executive director Kecia Greenho.
“It’s encouraged throughout the system, and viewed as a real great thing we can get into,” Murphy said.

The Dorchester Road Regional Branch Library is one of six places you can drop off new or gently used children’s books.

They will then be handed out to the more than 800 tutors in the Charleston area who work with elementary and pre-kindergarten students on their reading skills.

“It will help those kids have books to actually take home and maybe put on the shelf, or make even their personal private library,” Murphy said.

Gregory Calas, who will start fourth grade in the fall, visits the Dorchester Road Library often with his grandmother.

He said he reads every night before he goes to bed. Although, he admits learning how to read was tough.

“I learned how to do it and [then] it got easier to read,” Calas said.

Calas and his grandmother think the book drive is a great idea and plan to donate soon.

“That’s where it starts,” said Nitsa Calas. “It starts with reading. With schools and education, that’s a big part, it’s a main part of their lives. That’s what is going to make us better.”

The book drive will run all month long, so you still have time to make your donation.

The book drive drop off points are at the following six branches:

Dorchester Road Regional Library, Hurd/St. Andrews Regional Library, John’s Island Regional Library, Main Library, Mt. Pleasant Regional Library, and Otranto Road Regional Library.

A similar drive is planned to help students in the Charlotte community.

Nationwide, Reading Partners has approximately 14,000 volunteer tutors who help more than 10,000 students improve their reading skills.

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