The Salvation Army helps share love of reading with South Georgia youth

Nov 12, 2019 | by Brad Rowland

The Salvation Army helps share love of reading with South Georgia youth

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts and local reading enthusiasts are partnering in Tifton, Georgia, to make children's books available to less fortunate families.

"Shirene Daniels and the 20th Century Library Club here started it," said Kelley Bedore, Salvation Army service center director in the South Georgia city. "We partner with pretty much everybody in town, and we said we'd love to help. I love to read, and we get a lot of donated books."

The effort is part of the nationwide Little Free Library reading initiative that promotes free community book exchanges. Typically, volunteers sponsor small boxes or kiosks where donated books are placed in public places.

In Tifton's case, the little libraries are going to neighborhoods where families might not have the wherewithal to buy books for their youngsters. "The idea is to share a book, read a book, bring it back – but if a child keeps it, that's OK," Bedore said.

A local newspaper, the Tifton Gazette, donated more than 20 old sidewalk vending boxes to get things rolling. Four libraries were set out initially.

Troop leader Amanda Gabel and 15 members of Girl Scout Troop 40363 recently came to The Salvation Army's service center to decorate four more. Adults had done the messy work of spray painting; the girls finished the boxes with stickers and colored duct tape.

Each receptacle holds about 30 titles – children's works, mostly, and some young adult novels, Bedore said. "We get many wonderful children's books. We're still selling them in our store, but some we set aside every few days to share with the community."

The Army is sponsoring one box, with Bedore checking it every few days to make sure it's stocked; it also will provide books to other boxes, "because not everybody has access to donated books." The Girl Scouts will be back after the holidays to decorate more little libraries.

"We're helping people in our community have access to reading," Bedore said. "We love our children, and we're going into poverty areas where children probably would not have a book in the home. Now, each child can have a book. This is right in line with The Salvation Army's mission to help others in need."

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