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Book drive continues librarian's legacy
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CHARLESTON, S.C. — To continue the early literacy goals of 31-year CCPL librarian Cynthia Graham Hurd, one of nine people killed in 2015 during a shooting at Emanuel AME Church, her siblings started a foundation and are planning a month-long book drive in June – the anniversary of the shooting and Cynthia’s birthday month.
Announced during a press conference May 12 by Hurd’s siblings, the newly created Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for Literacy and Civic Engagement is joining forces with Reading Partners-Charleston, CCPL and Live 5 WCSC to collect new and gently used children’s books at six library branches in Charleston County during June. The books will be distributed through Reading Partners to elementary and pre-school students being tutored by the organization’s volunteers to help bring their reading skills up to grade level. A similar book drive is planned to help students in the Charlotte community.
Cynthia’s brother, Malcolm, said his sister loved reading and sharing literature with people of all ages. She was dedicated to making sure every child had access to books, learned to read and developed a lifelong love for books and reading. The foundation is continuing her efforts through the goals of the foundation and book drive.
“We’re celebrating life and legacy of not only our sister, but those who died with her. We are not focused on how they died. We are focused on how they lived,” said brother Malcolm Graham, who launched the foundation and book drive with siblings Melvin Graham, Averill “Jackie” Graham Jones, Robert Moultrie and Gilbert Moultrie. Family members made the first donation to the Foundation by donating $5,000 and purchasing 300 books to be distributed to children during June at the Dart Branch Library and the St. Andrews Regional Library, both branches managed by Hurd during her library career.
Kecia Greenho, executive director of Reading Partners-Charleston, praised the efforts of Cynthia and her family for making a difference in the lives of children who aren’t reading on par with their grade level.
“Our mission is to foster a love of literacy and empower and engage students in a lifelong love of learning,” Greenho said about Reading Partners, acknowledging that it sounds like it matches the life mission of Cynthia Graham Hurd, too.
“Eighty percent of children living in poverty in South Carolina do not read proficiently. That is a staggering number, and the only way we are going to solve this problem is by engaging the community,” she added, saying the books will be distributed through the organizations 800+ volunteers in the Charleston area tutoring students twice weekly in one-on-one sessions. The program targets children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade who are below their grade level in reading and are at under resourced schools. The books will be given to the students to help them develop a love for reading by being able to practice at home and build an at-home library.
Nationwide, Reading Partners has approximately 14,000 volunteer tutors who help more than 10,000 students improve their reading skills.