Greenwood High School senior Mary Beth Grant participated in Furman University’s Emerging Public Leaders program last summer and was tasked to come up with a community service project for her neighborhood.
On Wednesday, that project came to fruition.
Grant donated books that were collected from October to February to the United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties.
“I’ve always loved books,” Grant said. “My mom is an elementary school teacher. I saw that students were reading on grade level.”
She saw this as an opportunity to help.
“It’s a good project,” she said.”
Grant organized the book drive with several members of her community. They included her senior class, her Links at Stoney Point neighbors, Westminster Presbyterian Church members, friends and family.
Grant’s efforts helped collect 1,200 books. She decided to donate the books to United Way and partnering agencies and contacted United Way Director of Community Impact Lindsay Henrichs.
“(Mary Beth) sent an email months ago,” Henrichs said. “We do not have direct services. We give products to partnering agencies who work with children.”
Henrichs said she thought the project was a neat idea.
“Mary Beth is completing her education, but she wanted to make sure that kids have an opportunity to further her education,” Henrichs said. “It shows that you’re never too young to make a difference.”
Partnering organizations receiving books include The Children’s Center, Bowers-Rodgers, Healthy Learners and Laurens Safe Home.
The Children’s Center’s LPN for Programs Yareni Beltran said the books will help.
“We do a visitation program,” Beltran said, adding the books will “encourage moms to read through pregnancy while they are in our program.”
The center’s programs include Nurse Family Partnership, Healthy Family and Healthy Steps.
Kayse Fabans is the victims advocate for Laurens County Safe Home.
“We don’t get a lot of adult books, and we’re getting them today,” Fabans said. “It’s a good thing.”
Healthy Learners Program Manager Elaine Copeland said her agency serves a lot of elementary school children.
“We are a United Way partnering agency,” Copeland said. “Our program helps kindergarten through high school students in the district who have unmet health needs.”
Copeland’s co-worker, Student Services Coordinator Alice Balentine, said the book drive speaks to their mission.
“The populations we work with don’t get books very often,” Balentine said.
Grant learned a lot from participating in Furman’s program.
“I met Gov. Nikki Haley and former Secretary of Education Richard Riley,” she said.
Her experience might explain her future plans.
“I’d like to go to Wofford (College) or Clemson (University),” Grant said. “I want to study political science.”