United Way to give books to third-graders

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, August 6, 2014

With the start of the school year quickly approaching, the United Way of West Central Mississippi is preparing to enrich the educational opportunities of Warren County’s many students.

Executive director Michele Connelly, who took over the position earlier this year, spoke to the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club at a luncheon at Goldie’s Tuesday about upcoming school events, including a book giveaway for third-graders in the county. With the collaboration of the United Way and local businesses, every third-grade student will receive four free books.

“We applied for a grant, and with that grant we received money that allowed us to partner with Lorelei Books, and Lorelei Books ordered our first round of books,” the former St. Aloysius principal said. “We are going in to each one of the schools and volunteers from around the community are going to read these books to each one of the classrooms.”

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Prominent community members have volunteered to go to classrooms throughout Warren County and read the books to the students, building relationships that Connelly hopes will help guide the students as they further their education.

“It is key to the mission of United Way,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I think it is one of the most important things is that we have the capability of bringing community leaders together in an environment where we can brainstorm ways to meet the needs of our community.”

Connelly took over the executive director position in June after 15 years in parochial education as a counselor, teacher and administrator.

Her career as an educator and mentor has driven her to passionately help the children of the community, which she feels is her obligation, she said.

“It’s definitely where my heart goes, is the children in our community. I want to make sure they are given everything absolutely possible to allow them to be successful. That’s our responsibility.

We’ve got to do that. If we don’t get together and we don’t work together to ensure the success of these children, then we are failing as those who have been chosen to be adults,” she added.