No. 755



With the help and support of the good people in my community, we have developed what I believe to be the best educational value in our country. This statement is true for several valid and very important reasons. To begin, every city, town and community in our nation has low-income families, with most of these being below the poverty level. As a general rule, most of these families do not have many, if any, books for their children to read, and education is not a top priority. These children, through no fault of their own, are at the greatest risk of dropping out of school, missing great opportunities for personal success. Many of them later get into trouble with the law, which often means costly incarceration.
This is the backdrop for a terrific literacy project that we started in 2005 called the Conway Bookcase Project, which is directed by a chairman and a 14-member committee of volunteers. Our project uses no tax money or grants of any kind. We build 50 quality personalized oak bookcases each year and present them to young children, free of charge, in the local Head Start program and the Conway Housing Authority. These bookcases, along with a starter set of books, in many cases, are the nicest piece of furniture in their homes.
It is important to understand that this is not a civic club project, not a church project, not a government project, not a school project – it’s a community project, where we seek to get the whole community involved. The support has been tremendous, as we have had students from three area schools involved, civic clubs, churches, local and state officials, the business community and leaders from our three institutions of higher education. Since we started in 2005, we have had between 2,000 and 3,000 people involved in one way or another.
The funds to build the bookcases is raised by holding a “Bookcase Literacy Banquet” each fall and is held at a local middle school cafeteria. Each person who attends buys a ticket for $15.95 and this covers a fantastic meal served family style, some great local entertainment and a complimentary copy of the founder’s book, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” Many banks, public officials and individuals purchase a table of eight tickets and a crowd of 300 to 400 people will provide all the money needed to build the bookcases and have money left over to provide ‘seed’ money to help other communities start their own bookcase project.
A group of volunteer craftsmen build the bookcases in early spring, and an awards ceremony follows at the end of April, where they are presented to the children and their parents. Again, the whole community is invited, thanks to our local newspaper and cable television station, and we hold the ceremony at our local library. To this date we have built and presented 300 of these bookcases, and the children and their parents are delighted to receive them. At the ceremony we have an invocation, presentation of the colors by the high school JROTC unit, a welcome by a local or state official, a keynote address, the presentation of the bookcases, special thanks to donors from the project chairman and the closing benediction.
When a child starts to school ready to learn, they have a much better chance to succeed, and is why our no-cost project is the best educational value in our country. Every community needs a bookcase project and you can help to bring it about. Go to and type in Bookcase Literacy Banquet and you will learn why this is so important. We care.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)