Blytheville High students deliver books to elementary children - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Blytheville High students deliver books to elementary children

(Source: Lena Pierce) (Source: Lena Pierce)

Blytheville High School students are wrapping books to give to elementary school children in hopes it will help foster their love to read.

The book donations are part of the "Cara McCullom Birthday Book Program," which was created by the late, former Miss New Jersey and Arkansas-native Cara McCullom, and is now being continued in her memory.

Mrs. Lena Pierce, an English and journalism teacher at the high school, is including the program in her curriculum. McCullom was Pierce's childhood friend, and she said she felt like it was important to teach her students about "Birthday Books" and educate them on the importance of reading as well.

"Cara was an absolute ray of sunshine wherever she went. She was blessed with the most beautiful spirit and passion for giving. Cara loved books and wanted to share them with everyone," Pierce said. "She always worried that many underprivileged children may not receive books and the value of literacy, so she created the Birthday Book Project when she was only sixteen."

Click here to read a letter from Pierce about McCullom and the Birthday Books program

The program gives books to children in need every year on their birthday starting in Kindergarten through fifth grade. The organization started by giving away 300 books, and has since partnered with First Book to give away about 25,000 books in both Arkansas and New Jersey.

"In a generation that has grown up around technology reading is more important than ever. I wanted to incorporate the program into my teaching not only because of my personal connection but because my students deserve to get involved in their community and know that they can have an impact on the younger generations learning," Pierce said. "I wanted them to see the importance of giving back to a community that is so giving to them. The Blytheville school district and community are so proud of their city and I want my students to be proud of where they came from and to share the gift of reading."

McCullom ran on the platform of "Birthday Books" for the Miss New Jersey pageant in 2013 and took the crown. She was killed from injuries from a car crash in February of 2016 in New Jersey, and her friends and family have worked to continue "Birthday Books" in her memory.

Pierce's students are wrapping the books August 31 and will deliver them to Blytheville Elementary School on September 1. The students will also give a presentation to the children about reading and literacy.

You can learn more about the program here. 

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