Alpha Kappa Alpha puts books in hands of kids

Published 7:23 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vickie Roberson’s words left the room full of young people wide-eyed.

“You can go anywhere you want to go and do anything you want to do through a book,” Roberson, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, told the participants in the East Central Mental Health Summer Day Camp in Brundidge Wednesday morning.

“If you want to go to New York, a book will take you there,” she said. “If you want to go to Hawaii, read a book, and you’ll be there.”

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Roberson joined Vallanda Baker in a presentation at Pike County Elementary School designed to encourage reading throughout the year.

“When you have time off from school, you still need to continue to read,” Baker told the young people. “Reading is most important.”

Baker and Roberson backed their sorority’s commitment to reading by providing free books for the children to take home as their own.

Baker said Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s goal is to support educational endeavors and to encourage reading among young people.

“For about 20 years, Alpha Kappa Alpha has been partnering with RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) to provide free books to children in the schools of Pike County,” she said.

“Grant funds from RIF and the money that our AKA chapter raises through a variety of projects are used to purchase the books. This year, our focus has been Pike County Elementary School but, in years past, we have given books to children at Troy Elementary School, Banks, Goshen and New Life Christian Academy.”

Each day camper was given the opportunity Wednesday to select two books to take home and encouraged to read, read, read.

“We give books three times during the school year,” Baker said. “This year we have given about 800 books to children in kindergarten through the eighth grade.”

Baker said the rewards of the RIF project are seeing the children’s excitement in selecting their books and the obvious pride in ownership.

“Knowing that they will benefit from our reading program makes it all worthwhile,” she said.

In addition to the reading initiative, the local AKA chapter sponsors food drives, health fairs and fashion shows, provides gift baskets to the residents of local nursing homes and provides financial support and encouragement to a selected male-led household.

The local AKA chapter is made up of women from Dothan, Ozark, Enterprise and Troy.