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$6,000 book donation helps children in Strawberry Plains area get a 'head start'

Parrott-Wood Memorial Library received more than 500 new books from the national Kids Need to Read organization.

STRAWBERRY PLAINS, Tenn. — Children in a rural east Tennessee community now have access to more than 500 new books through a donation from a national organization.

Hidden in Strawberry Plains is Parrott-Wood Memorial Library, the smallest library in the Jefferson County Library System.

"We are a rural area and, if you look at the area around us, our library is our community living room for our community," Donna Phillips, who serves as director of the library, said.

Phillips says this place is way more than just books on shelves.

"We are a learning institute," Phillips said. "We are an extension of the school."

An extension of the school in a place where 60% of children do not have access to books at home.

Because she only has $500 per year to buy books for the children's section, Phillips decided to apply for a Grow Your Library grant from the Kids Need To Read organization.

"And I thought, 'Well, it is a long shot, but all they can do is say no'," Phillips remembered.

That long shot was a bulls-eye. Parrott-Wood received 525 books, a donation that is worth $6,598.

"If we do not get these books in the hands of these kids, I believe they will not have a head start in life," Phillips said. "You know, if you can get these books in their hands, they can dream big, and they can become a better person by doing this. Education is knowledge and knowledge will take you anywhere."

Studies show reading proficiently by third grade correlates with a person's success later in life. Phillips said this new stack of books is helping kids in a small, rural town reach their full potential.

"You know, we can say, 'Oh, you are going to be a doctor or you are never going to amount to anything', that is what some people say, because you live in Strawberry Plains," Phillips added. "That is not true."

Because their annual budget is so small, Parrott-Wood relies on donations to survive. For that reason, they are holding a fundraiser on Saturday, March 25 at 5:00 p.m. at the Strawberry Plains First Baptist Church. Children three years old and younger enter for free while those older pay an $8 fee.

For more information, you can reach the Parrott Wood Memorial Library at 865-933-1311.

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