Love for Literacy Event in Sumter County increases Kids’ Potential to Read on Grade Level

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Guests at Sumter County's Love for Literacy eventMore than 200 children in Sumter County will receive a new book every month for an entire year thanks to The Ferst Foundation’s inaugural “Love for Literacy” gala.

“One of our strategies for Sumter County is to provide children, youth, and their parents with information and support that will promote successful completion of secondary education and lifelong learning,” said Mitzi Bacon, event co-chair and coordinator for Visions for Sumter—the Sumter County Georgia Family Connection Collaborative. “Through collaboration with organizations like the Ferst Foundation, Sumter County is well on its way to achieving that goal. By providing age-appropriate reading material to children birth – 5 years old, we greatly increase our children’s potential to read on grade level, graduate from high school, and become productive citizens and life-long readers.”

Sumter County’s goal reflects Gov. Nathan Deal’s—and Georgia Family Connection’s statewide—goal to increase the percentage of children reading at grade level by third grade.  In his State-of-the State address, the governor emphasized the importance of strong reading instruction in the early grades.

“When we fail to invest in our youngest students, we are forced to spend money on remediation for the rest of their academic careers,” said Deal.  “Children not meeting this standard often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school, go to prison, and have higher unemployment rates later in life than their reading-proficient peers.”

Celebrity waiters pose at the Love for Literacy GalaBacon and co-chair Fred Richmond called the sold-out gala a huge success. One of the attractions of the evening was the Celebrity Wait Staff. Leaders from the community served up steak and shrimp, and a Chocolate Tuxedo dessert while entertaining guests with costumes, games, jokes, gifts, and lots of Southern charm. Another highlight of the evening came from the Bifocal Bluegrass Band with its vocal harmony and stringed instruments.

“We had three goals for this event,” said Richmond.  “One, we wanted to raise money to buy books for kids; two, we wanted to raise awareness of the Sumter County Ferst Foundation; and, three, we wanted everyone to have fun.”

According to Steve Stanfield, chair of Sumter County’s Ferst Foundation Community Action Team, they achieved all three goals. “When the pledges and contributions are in, we will have raised enough money to buy a book each month for more than 200 children for an entire year,” he said.

The Sumter County Ferst Foundation is a local community action team that works to increase literacy in Sumter County by providing age-appropriate books to children ages birth – 5 years old. The Sumter County Ferst Foundation partners with The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and has been active in Sumter County for two years.  To date, the Sumter County Ferst Foundation has provided books to more than 600 children. 

Bacon said plans are already underway to make this an annual event.

Read the Americus Times-Reporter story.


Mitzi Bacon
Visions for Sumter

William Valladares
GaFCP Communications Manager

404-527-7394 (x114)