Free Books for Maynard Elementary School Students

The following was submitted. I am passing along, this seems like a great idea. In addition, my Church family of First Baptist, Concord has been supporting an after school program at Maynard Elementary School for a number of years and volunteers go there to tutor and mentor the students.

Community Project to Aid Students With Reading Skills
From Vic Baldwin

When school starts back for the 2015-2016 term, students at Maynard Elementary School can expect a real treat. Free books are on the way.

Due to a program launched by Martha Rose Woodward, a retired school teacher, Betty Reddick, Democratic Women of Knoxville’s leader and Sid Gwyn, local businessman, students in grades 2nd through 5th will be given 3 to 5 books each to take home and keep.

More books will be given to the students during this school year in hopes of increasing reading practice. “We are hoping to encourage the children to read,” said Reddick. “This plan came about when Betty asked me if I could come up with an idea her club could use that would be of benefit to students,” explained Woodward. “Betty said they wanted to do something with books and reading, but were not sure what would work.”

Reddick is well-known in the political circles in Knox County as one of the leaders of the Democratic Women of Knoxville, a club that recently celebrated its 25th year. The DWKC often sponsors programs and events that support education. “Betty and I have been pals for years,” said Woodward. She was seeking a creative plan that involved helping student learn to read. I was able to develop one that I knew would be successful.

Woodward said that her plan contained a few steps which she completed before bowing out and letting the club members move forward with implementation.

“I nicknamed the project, Project 250, said Woodward, but decided to copyright that title and asked the DWKC to develop their own title.” How does the plan work? As a long-time member of Friends of the Library, Woodward said that she negotiated with the group in order to purchase books left over from their big sale held in May at a discounted rate.

“After Betty’s group paid for the books, I selected the ones I knew would coordinate with the skills being taught in each grade. After I boxed up the books, we needed a place to store them. Betty was going to rent a storage unit, but my good friend, Sid Gwyn, had an empty house he offered as space for storage until time for school to begin,” said Woodward.

The books were sorted according to grade levels and placed in bags made by the members of the club from tee-shirts. “Since students in grades kindergarten and first grade are not actually reading at this point, we decided to start with the other grades and will add “picture books” for the lower grades soon,” said Woodward.

Contact was made with the principal of Maynard Elementary School, Kim Wilburn-Collum, who was thrilled for her students to have the opportunity to be given free books. A date was set and free books will be going home with the lucky students soon. “We wanted a program like this one,” said Wilburn-Collum. “We just didn’t know how it might happen. This fits the needs of our students.”

“It was my thinking that (1) Children are more likely to read books if they own the books. (2) Reading practice maters. (3) FOTL needed to sell books left over from their big sale. (4) Book bags can be made from “no-sew” patterns from old tee-shirts. (5) There are numerous people in the community willing and able to help children with their reading skills. All we have to do is figure out ways to use this resource.

The DWKC is going to need more books. Anyone in the community who would like to make a donation may contact Betty Reddick via e mail at Democratic Women of Knoxville meets on the first Monday of the month at 12:00 noon at the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Area Central Labor Council, located at 1522 Bill Williams Drive. Membership is open. Contact Betty Reddick at Any schools that are interested in developing a Project-250 may contact Martha Woodward via e mail at

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