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School honors Burrell’s memory with creation of Heidi’s Hideout

In memory and honor of former United Way of West Central Mississippi staffer Heidi Burrell, a new reading center has been created at the A.W. Watson Elementary School in Port Gibson.

Thanks to the partnership and support of several Vicksburg residents who want to encourage children to expand their world through reading, Heidi’s Hideout now features some 150 new books, “and we have plenty of room to grow in A.W. Watson’s library,” school librarian Dina Scott said.

Kelle Barfield, the owner of Lorelei Books, said a loyal customer recently wanted to support local businesses, including a bookstore donation to go toward books for children.

“I reached out to Michele Connelly at the United Way for the best way to put these funds to use, and she said that the elementary school in Port Gibson was in dire need of new reading material,” Barfield said.

Burrell, the former director of resource development and Claiborne County resident, died suddenly in July and was a strong supporter of A.W. Watson Elementary.

Barfield said she worked with Scott to create ‘Heidi’s Hideout.”

Scott said she works with the teachers to help students learn to love reading.

“We try to keep the library bustling with activity but funding for new books is always a challenge,” Scott said. “We use incentives like those in the accelerated reading program. Having fresh material on the shelves will excite these children.”

LaQuanda Anderson, who is Burrell’s niece and a second-grade teacher at A.W. Watson Elementary School, said that while some children have to be encouraged to read, others are “wearing me out” with their energy. She described one student who she felt certain would “up her level,” thanks to the books in Heidi’s Hideout.

A.W. Watson principal Antwan Reeves said she sees it as a blessing to have partners from Vicksburg “shine a light on boys and girls in Claiborne County.” 

Reeves said Burrell was an integral part of the school and offered her services through many special projects including the school’s playground and helping to maintain library materials.

“Book donations are a tremendous way to honor Heidi and to make future citizens of our region stronger,” Reeves said. 

Anyone wanting to add a book to Heidi’s Hideout can contact Lorelei Books at 601-634-8624. The staff at Lorelei will arrange for the selection and delivery of books to complement those that are part of the starter set.