a book case for every child

Wynne, AR Bookcase Project

City: Wynne, Arkansas
County: Cross
Population: 8,950
Date Organized: Fall – 2009

Charter Committee Members

1. Matt Boone, Chairman – First National Bank
2. Sherry Breckenridge, Co-Chairman – Wynne Public Schools
3. Holly Mercer – Director/Cross County Library
4. Matt Pearson – Pastor/Wynne Baptist Church
5. Bob McMurtrey – Methodist Men
6. Judy McMurtrey – Methodist Women
7. James Jennings – Editor/Wynne Progress
8. Bud Greene – Baptist Men
9. Martha Baldwin, Treasurer – F.N.B. of Eastern Arkansas
10. Fred Heath – Wynne Fire Department
11. B.J. Curtis – Caldwell Lumber Company
12. Stacie Patterson – Wynne Schools PTA
13. Pat Lewis – Retired Librarian
14. King Casbeer – Cross County Bank
15. Ann Dye – Retired Teacher
16. Gary Dye – Methodist Men
17. George Ann Draper – Retired Librarian
18. Glenda Haynes – First National Bank
19. Mrs. Sandra Smith – Publicity African-American Community

Community Book Drive

Dates – September, October, November - 2009
Goal 1500 – Actually collected 2500

Inaugural Annual Bookcase Literacy Banquet
Date held: February 4, 2010
Location: Wynne High School Cafeteria
Attendance: 350

Inaugural Annual Awards Ceremony
Date Held: May 23, 2010
Location: Wynne High School Auditorium
Number of Bookcases & Books presented – 89

The Wynne Bookcase Project Story

f you have been around for very long, you know the deep sense of satisfaction that comes when a plan comes together. The citizens of Wynne, Arkansas have a right to be justifiably proud of their efforts, in developing a “Bookcase for Every Child” project in their community. This community is located in the Mississippi Delta of East Arkansas, and most of the cities and towns in this area are suffering from high rates of illiteracy, low employment, store fronts closed and a general feeling of despair that permeates the whole area. Wynne is the exception with a strong economy, good schools and a community spirit of hope and optimism for the future. They know the importance of literacy, as evidenced by what they were already doing, before a “Bookcase for Every Child” project ever came along, and were eager to get started when it was presented to them in the fall of 2009.

nder the leadership of Ms. Sherry Breckenridge, Wynne School Parent Coordinator, a committee, made up of 19 leading citizens from throughout the community, was formed to put the plan into action. From September thru November of 2009 a Book Drive was held to secure 1500 books for pre-school children being reared in low-income and disadvantaged homes. This drive was aided greatly by James Jennings, Editor of the Wynne Progress newspaper who wrote countless articles to let the community know about the project and how they could help. When the drive was over they had collected more than 2500 books, with some left over for the following year. They were serious about helping these special children who are at the greatest risk of dropping out of school and suffering a fate that comes to an illiterate person in our society.

uring the first of three committee meetings the project was divided up into five phases and individual members were assigned one or more tasks based on their interests, expertise and generally what was needed to be done.

The five phases are:
1. Publicity – Book Drive – Related Activities
2. Bookcase Club - $50 donation from individuals to purchase food for banquet
3. Literacy Banquet – To raise funds to construct bookcases – Related Activities
4. Purchase of Materials to Assemble Bookcases – location, Volunteers, etc.
5. Awards Ceremony – Time to present bookcases – Related Activities

The assignment for individual committee members were as follows:
Book-drive Committee: Holly Mercer, George Ann Draper, Pat Lewis, East Lab, Sherry Phillians Girl Scout Troop
Bookcase Club Members: Anne Dye
Literacy Banquet: Kitchen Volunteers/Food – Judy McMurtrey, Stacie Patterson
Theme Decorations/Ticket Sales – Glenda Haynes, Sherry Phillians Girl Scout Troop
Bookcase Cutting/Assembling: - Caldwell Lumber Company - B.J. Curtis, Bob McMurtrey, Bud Greene, Fred Heath, Bill Curtis, Ruyal Baldwin, – shop, Larry Jones – High School Shop, Special Workshop
Treasurer: Martha Baldwin
Secretary: Anne Dye
Awards Ceremony: Matt Boone, Sherry Breckenridge, King Casbeer
Publicity: James Jennings, Lyndell Staggs, Sherry Breckenridge

he decision was made to hold the banquet on February 4, 2010 in the Wynne High School Cafeteria. With plans now in place, committee members, plus countless other volunteers, went to work to insure that the banquet would be a success. With continuing publicity from the Wynne Progress, tickets had to be printed and sold, kitchen helpers secured, food had to be ordered, the banquet room decorated, entertainment lined up, and those who would serve the meal identified and in place. At this point community spirit and teamwork took center stage.

rs. Sherry Phillians Girl Scout Troop took ownership in the project and volunteered to decorate the banquet room with “An Enchanted Storybook Forrest” theme and they had trees, jungle birds, butterflies, waterfalls, fountains, beanstalks and fairytales. The girls made huge paper trees for all four corners of the cafeteria with vines trailing from the trees. In one corner they paced a giant bean stalk. The birds and butterflies were placed throughout the cafeteria. On the wall where the podium was located and entertainment would take place, was staged to look like the backdrop of a waterfall with cascading silver tinsel. The first bookcase made in the Wynne Bookcase Project was used to decorate the front of the podium and some of the donated books were placed in the bookcase. The women from the Delta Kappa Gamma Society were available and helped to set up the tables. Members of the JROTC, dressed in camouflage to compliment the theme, served the meal

he entertainment was provided by the Wynne High School Jazz Band and Mr. Jeff Eppes sang a selection of Gospel Songs followed by a brief program where Chairman Matt Boone and Co-Chairman Sherry Breckenridge thanked all those who had helped and the purpose of the project and when the awards ceremony to present the bookcases to the children would take place. A complimentary copy of the Founder’s book “Learning, Earning & Giving Back” was available to each person who attended after the program was over. It was truly a community wide event as community citizens, school faculty and administrators, students, prominent citizens, committee members and state and local officials were in attendance.

he banquet raised sufficient funds to construct the bookcases. Plans had been made to build 100 bookcases but due to most of the craftsmen still working, they could not devote sufficient time to complete the task before the Awards Ceremony so they called on Mr. Larry Jones, and his agri-mechanics students to help construct the final 50 bookcases. This was great experience for these students. Next year the plan is to build only 50 bookcases and have the students cut out the parts, and the craftsmen will assemble and stain the bookcases, another great example of teamwork.

t was now time for the Awards Ceremony that will take place each year. Invitations were mailed to city officials, state representatives and special guests, along with great publicity from the Wynne Progress. Decorations with the theme “Wild about Reading” was provided for the ceremony by same Girl Scouts who decorated for the banquet. They also took down the decorations after the ceremony. What an awesome job these girls did for the community. On May 23, 2010, the bookcases and books were in place at the Wynne High School Auditorium when guests began to arrive. This was truly a historic day in the community of Wynne, Arkansas, as 89 4-year-old children received their very own personalized bookcase and a starter set of books. A very tasteful and professional looking printed program was prepared for the ceremony and we are pleased to present it for your viewing here.

here were many compliments from both parents and children and one child had this to say, “Thank you Mrs. Linda, (Linda Yocum, Pre-School Director) for my bookcase and books.” Her Grandmother said, “It was like Christmas." The total Wynne Bookcase Project experience prompted this comment from Ms. Sherry Breckenridge, Co-Chairman of the project “All in all this has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life and certainly one of the most beneficial projects I, personally, have ever been involved in.” A special word of thanks also goes to Dr. Ben Perry, Superintendent of the Wynne Public Schools, who has been totally supportive from the very beginning.

ith a year under their belt, and volunteers willing, eager and ready to step up to the plate, this project will continue next year and for decades into the future. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind, that this project will make a difference. Many of these children will achieve outstanding success because of the selfless giving on the part of the citizens of this community.