Room 10 in the Lee County Boys and Girls club holds the Pine Hills Literacy Project, a great opportunity for Auburn students to get involved in the community.
The project is an after school program that works with students in the first through sixth grades to not only increase reading proficiency, but to help students develop a lifelong love of reading.
The founders of the project are childhood friends, Anne Daniels and Robert Gibbs, grew up in Auburn and wanted to give greater educational opportunities to the children of their hometown.
Gibbs, the former White House Press Secretary, lives in Washington, D.C., but Daniels resides in Auburn and is a regular at the Boykin Community Center where the project is housed.
“We decided that that was just a shame in Auburn, that we didn’t have a support system for these kids,” said Daniels. “So we just started buying books and we talked to the club and they let us use this room and basically we just decided that we would buy books and try and be fun reading for the kids.”
The project is kept going by volunteers from the university and financial donations from people and organizations in the Auburn community.
“Auburn football players come when it’s not football season and we’ve had Auburn basketball players when come when it’s not basketball,” said Daniels. “We’ve also had a lot of early childhood education, psychology, and social work majors come, and several sororities when they need service hours.”
Auburn athletes and students serve as mentors to the children in the program, read aloud to groups, and help students on an individual basis with their reading skills.
The students in the program have also received special opportunities, like the chance to attend football and basketball games. Daniels says that their next outing will be to Turner field in Atlanta for a Braves baseball game.
“We try to build in some fun incentives on top of trying to encourage them to read,” Daniels said.
One such donator to the project is the M.A.D.E. foundation, an organization started by Tony Barbee, head coach of the Auburn University men’s basketball team.
“Coach has started it since he’s come to Auburn to help out kids in the whole state of Alabama,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Auburn University men’s basketball team. “It helps out underprivileged and economically challenged kids, and helps out the organizations that help them.”
The foundation has already made many donations to the Pine Hills Project, including funds to buy books and other resources for the children to use. They even donated candy to the project last year for Halloween.
The M.A.D.E. foundation held their second annual golf tournament on September 14, and the Pine Hills Project will be receiving some of the proceeds.
“We will use all the money that they provide to purchase books for the children,” said Daniels. “What’s great is that we have not advertised or solicited donations. They [the M.A.D.E. foundation] have been real good about calling us up.”
For more information about the Pine Hills Literacy project or the M.A.D.E. foundation, go to http://pinehillsliteracyproject.com/ and www.coachbarbee.com/MADE.swf.