TIFTON -- Community volunteers delivered hundreds of books to G.O. Bailey Elementary School Tuesday as part of an effort to expand a reading pilot program to curb illiteracy.
Employees of Tifton Aluminum donated their time to the project under the Alcoa Foundation's ACTION program, which awards grants to non-profit organizations based on the number of hours worked by Alcoa employees. Books were donated at drop points placed at different sites around town and then collected by the Tifton Aluminum employees.
The books will go home with students participating in the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence's reading program, which serves pre-school children with siblings attending G.O. Bailey. The families of children in the program agree to read to the pre-schooler once a day, and in exchange the child receives a new book in the mail every month.
The older child acts as a "reading ambassador" who reports the family's progress daily. The donated books will be sent home to be read.
"The most support we got was from the parents right here at this school," said Bob Garbutt, manager of quality and technology for Tifton Aluminum. "That tells me they like the program and the program is working. Then next after that was the Coastal Plain Regional Library and then the employees at Tifton Aluminum.
"But I was most impressed by the parents and teachers at this school. We had to make two or three pickups at this location."
TCFEE Executive Director Mike Brumby said he hopes to eventually build up collections of books for all Tift County public elementary schools. A second batch of books collected by the Tifton Aluminum group will stay at the Foundation's Reading Center on Tift Avenue to be used by students taking Accelerated Reader tests.
"Tifton Aluminum is an Adopt-A-School partner for G.O. Bailey, and I'm also a member of the Foundation board," Garbutt said. "This was just a natural extension for us."
The grant money earned by the local workers will go to the foundation for pilot program expansion.
To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.
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