Middle Tennessee Christian School’s Early Learning Center Director Lori Gonzales was considering a service project for her Pre-K 3 and 4 year old program last spring when she heard about First Lady Crissy Haslam’s Read 20 literacy program.
“It seemed like the perfect program for us to be a part of, but the question was how,” Gonzales says. The Compassion in Action Book Drive was the answer to that question. The center’s goal was to collect 2012 books to share with children who were learning to read just like their own students were, but who might not have their own books.
At the end of the 30 day book drive, donations from children, parents, and local businesses totaled close to 2500 books and $2500.00 in cash. The totals were proudly announced to First Lady Haslam in April.
The books were shipped to Liberia, Africa to benefit The Ford-Madden Christian Academy, a school that MTCS helps support.
The remaining cash was donated locally to Read to Succeed, Rutherford County’s literacy non-profit that offers free in-school programs and tutoring and ESL classes for adults.
“We wanted serve children in Murfreesboro as well as children on the other side of the world,” Gonzales says. “We believe that the love of language and reading is the foundation for a successful life-long love of learning. Learning to serve others at this young age is priceless!”
This week, Gonzales and the children of the MTCS Early Learning Center presented a $1500 check to Read To Succeed Executive Director Lisa Mitchell and Executive Board President Scott Walker.
"What an incredible lesson these parents and teachers are providing these young children about giving back to their community,” Mitchell says. “The children were so excited to hear about all the families that will benefit from their donation, and this funding will support free books for hundreds of local students."
MTCS also donated hundreds of books to the non-profit, which have been passed out to students at Title 1 schools participating in Read To Succeed’s Family Literacy Programs.
Even more, the donation helped the non-profit reach a milestone, adding to the money raised last month during the Read To Succeed Celebrity Bee fundraiser. The donation from MTCS brought total funds raised to over $61,000 to support local literacy efforts.
Celebrity Bee fundraising Chair Shawn McFarland says that donations like these help Read To Succeed raise awareness of the importance of literacy in Rutherford County.
“We don’t take the responsibility of making sure this community knows how important reading is lightly,” he says. “Without the support of institutions like MTCS, we could not make the difference in our community that we know we can.”