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Volunteers needed for 'United We Read' program


Special to The Dispatch



Volunteers are being sought this week for the culmination of a United Way-coordinated project aimed at encouraging reading and promoting literacy in the community. 


The "United We Read" initiative will conclude with the distribution of hundreds of donated books in what organizers are calling "The Great Starkville Book Swap" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Starkville Public Library on University Drive at South Montgomery Street. 


Before the books can be distributed to community members, however, volunteers are needed to transport the books to the library, said Nikki Rives, executive director of the United Way of North Central Mississippi.  


Volunteers willing to transport books are needed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Rives said. 


Volunteers will also be needed to work one- to two-hour shifts between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday to operate the "Great Starkville Book Swap," Rives said. 


"The Book Swap is the final component of the 'United We Read' project, and we need volunteers to help make it a success," Rives said. "Anyone who can help is welcome. Some lifting of boxes of books will be involved." 


The "United We Read" project is coordinated by the United Way in partnership with the Starkville Public Library, Volunteer Starkville, Armstrong Middle School, the Starkville Junior Auxiliary and the Starkville School District's Family-Centered Programs Reading to Succeed initiative. The project involved a one-week book drive at Armstrong and Emerson Family School and a two-week community book drive with drop points at multiple business locations. 


The books have then been brought to the United Way office, sorted and repacked to be taken to the library for Saturday's "Great Starkville Book Swap." Books in a variety of genres will be available for readers of all ages at the book swap. 


"We have been overwhelmed at the generosity of the community in supporting the book drive," Rives said. "We have plenty of books to give away and encourage people to come out to the book drive on Saturday." 


The "United We Read" project is the second of four quarterly community outreach projects coordinated by the United Way, the first being the community-wide "United We Feed" effort to restock local food pantries during February and early March. Other outreach projects are being planned for late summer and mid-fall, Rives said. 


"The 'United We Read' project provided another way for the United Way to be actively involved in improving our community beyond just raising money each fall to support 15 charitable agencies," Rives said. "With education playing such a vital role in the life of Starkville and Oktibbeha County, we wanted to sponsor a project that would not only involve students at local schools, but also encourage them and people of all ages to embrace reading as a part of life-long learning." 


To volunteer to help sort books or work the book swap event in conjunction with the "United We Read" project, call the United Way offices at 662-323-3830 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today to Friday or email Rives at [email protected]




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