A group of community collaborators including Save the Children, St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, and the Prince of Orange DAR Chapter, opened a “free library” on Monday, Feb. 21, to encourage and promote literacy in Orangeburg. Mayor Michael Butler and Orangeburg Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman Keitt were on hand for the ceremony, along with the South Carolina State Director of Save the Children Sonia Gass; Lead Associate for Community Engagement Destiny Johnson; and reigning Miss Orangeburg Plus and the new communications and youth director for St. Andrew’s UMC, Dayna Arnette.

Save the Children works within communities to enhance educational opportunities and support children and families holistically. Save the Children replenishes books to “free libraries” along with creating book nooks in available laundromats and other businesses.

Each community leader spoke about the significance of working together to make Orangeburg a stronger community and the importance of reading to and with young children as a necessity for future success. Former librarian Celia Richardson spoke about the impact of books on students that frequented the library, and Sheryl King shared that DAR is more than just an organization focused on history, but the organization values opportunities of service fostering education and literacy.

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This literary endeavor originated when Pastor Cindy Muncie of St. Andrew’s heard Destiny Johnson speak at a Rotary Club meeting. Muncie shared information with church members about Save the Children and its community goals. Eager to promote and work with community literacy, the Prince of Orange DAR members of St. Andrew’s began communicating and working with Save the Children to create the “free library” on the upper parking lot area of St. Andrew’s UMC.

Tom Kerr, a member of St. Andrew’s and Habitat for Humanity, built the box. St. Andrew’s Youth Group painted the box and later read books to children and guided them in a crafts after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Save the Children, along with DAR, will be replenishing the library with new books appealing to early readers and middle school children. Children living throughout the Orangeburg community are encouraged to visit and take a book from the library. These libraries do not want books returned but kept in homes where families can enjoy the stories again and again.

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