Changing It Up Angel Tree Branches Out to Help More Children
BY ANGIE TALLEY
Special to The Pilot
"See Spot run." Simple, simple words, but since the early 1930s, these words from the "Dick and Jane" series have served as an introduction to reading for millions of children.
This year, "Go, Go, Go" and "Jump and Run" from the "Dick and Jane" series are just two of the books selected by The Country Bookshop to be included in its annual Angel Tree Project.
For more than 18 years, the holiday Angel Tree has stood in the front window adorned with the names of Moore County children, from 175 in 1994 to more than 450 names this year. In total, almost 7,000 children have received a book through the bookshop's Angel Tree program, and for many, it was the first book they ever owned.
"A number of longtime Country Bookshop customers have made the Angel Tree part of their own holiday traditions," says bookshop manager Kimberly Daniels. "In early November, Pinehurst residents John and Kathy Snyder, and First Baptist Southern Pines' Education Minister Tom Allen ventured into the bookshop, paper in hand, and said, 'We're ready to wrap!'
"And just last weekend I met a grandmother, mother and two daughters who told me, 'Coming to the bookshop, choosing a name from the tree and selecting a book for each, is our Black Friday tradition. We like to start off our Christmas season by sharing our love of reading.'"
Daniels shares another story.
"Another mother and son quietly came to the counter holding a copy of 'The Polar Express' and an angel with the name of a 7-year-old girl, and they said, 'We want to share this book in memory of another 7-year-old girl, who was very special to us.' Stories like those remind me that the Angel Tree project means as much to many of the givers as the receivers."
This year's angels, ranging in age from just a few months to 14 years old, were carefully selected in a number of different ways, and for a variety of reasons.
All Moore County Head Start students, ranging in age from 10 months to 4 years, are included.
"We use the 'Dick and Jane' books in our curriculum," says Aberdeen director Maxine Howe. "These books are wonderful for our students because they have simple and repetitive text, which helps children feel successful and encourages them to read more and more. I am excited the Angel Tree project will allow each of the 4-year-olds in our Head Start programs to own their own copy of a 'Dick and Jane' book."
Also included are students selected by counselors, teachers and principals at local primary and elementary schools. One principal, when presenting the school's list commented, "I included the names of all of our homeless students, then added just a few more who will receive very little for Christmas this year, and most certainly, no books of their own."
Additionally included on the tree are second-grade students at Southern Pines Primary participating in a special "meet the author" program in January, and for the first time this year, The Country Bookshop has partnered with the Literacy Council to provide books to children who participate in the Santa Project, which provides bicycles to children on Christmas morning.
"You should see their faces," says Literacy Council Director Susan Sherard. "After the children have made their selection from the refurbished bicycles filling the Bo's parking lot, we direct them to a table where they can also choose a book. Sometimes they are just as excited about the books as they were the bicycles. Last year, I watched as a teenage boy brought his younger brother and sister up to the table. He waited patiently as they choose their books. When I offered a few selections for him, his face lit up. That is our business, getting people excited about reading."
This year's Angel Tree has two deadlines. All requests for elementary and Head Start student must be fulfilled by Friday, Dec. 14, to allow time for books to be wrapped and delivered before students leave on break.
However, donations for the Santa Project can be made right up until Christmas Eve.
Customers will receive a 20 percent discount for each book donated. Contributions may also be made over the telephone with a credit card.
To donate, or to volunteer to wrap and deliver books, call The Country Bookshop at (910) 692-3211.
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