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Kiwanians make reading a priority with book distribution

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Pitt County School's Superintendant Dr. Ethan Lenker participates in a book giveaway with members of the Pitt Golden K Kiwanis Club at Elmhurst Elementary School on Friday.


The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Pitt County Golden K Kiwanis club is distributing about 1,800 editions of the book “Abraham Lincoln” to every first-grader in Pitt County Schools.

The club kicked off the distribution on Friday with a special event at Elmhurst Elementary, sharing books with more than 60 students there. Members planned to make the rounds to more schools this week, including a visit the Chicod this morning.

Kiwanian Lennon Hooper helped get the effort started in 2003, when clubs across Pitt County raised funds to purchase books about the Wright Brothers in honor of the 100th anniversary of their first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk.

“Reading needs to be essential. It’s very important to our country,” Hooper, now 89, said during Friday’s event at Elmurst while children filled the gymnasium, grabbed their books and plopped on the floor to begin leafing through the pages. 

Hooper was a teacher prior to working for the National Park Service in education for 30 years, he said. He also volunteered for Jobs Corps and though his experience began to understand that many people could not read or could not read well, he said.

“So that's why we started the program and with that we thought we would be able to give a book to every first grader,” he said, adding that it is crucial to start reading early.

The Golden K has been able to continue the program thanks to a foundation started after local businessman Ed Riggs of A&B Motors died and left the club an inheritance, Hooper said.

Since then, it has given books to every first grader, starting with a book about George Washington. This year it distributed about 1,800 books.

The club also funds a scholarship at Pitt Community College.

The Abraham Lincoln book is part of a series published by National Geographic Kids. It covers Lincoln’s life and legacy including his decision to abolish slavery.

It features a colorful design and educational illustrations and includes the use of sidebars, timetables, diagrams and fun facts to hold the interest of the young readers.

Kiwanis Clubs focus on service projects that benefit youth locally and worldwide.