When it comes to dealing with life’s challenges, both from a personal and corporate standpoint, I have long held the belief that it’s better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness. It’s kind of like the statement we have all heard, “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” There is usually a silver lining in every cloud if we will just look for it.
    For the past several years, I have been telling you about a terrific literacy project that we started here in Conway back in 2005. It’s called “A Bookcase for Every Child” and as a community, we have come together to build quality, personalized, oak bookcases and have given them, along with a starter set of books, to children in low-income families. When you read this, we will have 200 of these bookcases in homes all across the community. We also read to these children each week in our local Head Start Centers.
    While building bookcases for these special children will always be our primary focus, the growing menace of violence and sexual predators in our society has made us realize for the sake of our children, as well as ourselves, we need to openly take a stand against the evil that is happening in our country. To be very candid, there is no place within our borders where we can feel perfectly safe anymore.
    In short, we would like to change that and hopefully start a movement that will spread all across this great nation. Of course this means we will have to change the culture. This is a task that will take not years, but decades to accomplish, if ever at all. If this is to ever come to pass, it will be because the citizens of each community in our country feel it is important enough to get involved.
    For your consideration, I would like to submit an idea we are planning here that we believe will serve to bring our community closer together. We believe this idea will work in your community as well. We are planning an annual Bookcase Literacy Banquet and will invite people from all across the community to “Come Dine With Us.” We will hold the event at a local middle school cafeteria where everyone will feel comfortable in attending. The great thing about our bookcase project is that it’s a “community” project, where everyone is encouraged and welcome to get involved. The cost for each banquet ticket will be $15.95, and all the proceeds will be used to build bookcases and spread the project to other communities.
    We hope to have at least 400 people each year who will accept our invitation to “Come Dine With Us,” as this will provide all the funds we need to carry out our mission. When you think about it, the $15.95 is about what you can expect to pay for a good meal at a local restaurant, especially when you add taxes and a gratuity for the person who serves you.
    However, when you spend just one evening out of the year dining with us, you will receive a whole lot more. We will have some fantastic music provided by local groups to entertain you, and you will also receive a complimentary copy of my book “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” We will change the type of music year by year to appeal to different tastes, all family friendly.
    We will have, not necessarily in this order, contemporary, country, Southern gospel and bluegrass, and we also have a great men’s chorus, and they may be willing to perform for us. There are countless individuals and groups out there who would welcome the opportunity to “give back,” as the food, music and books will all be donated. We all win together, and no one profits monetarily. We all win when we have improved literacy and less crime and violence and also diminish the increasing threat of sexual predators that prey on our precious young people. In addition to the things I have already mentioned, those who attend will receive the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to provide a quality personalized bookcase for children in low-income families.
    They will also understand they are part of a movement that openly stands against the use of violence and sexual predators. Since we will also need good “gently used” children’s books for our children, we will have boxes on hand to collect books from those who wish to donate them. When we started the “Bookcase for Every Child” project back in 2005, with the help of our local newspaper, the Log Cabin Democrat, we collected more than 6,000 volumes in only three months. We gave more than 3,000 of these to our local Boys & Girls Club.
    Most people really do want to help, and we are grateful for the support we have received here in our community. It is better to light just one small candle than to curse the darkness. If you would like to know more about starting a bookcase project in your community, contact me or visit my Web site: www.jimdavidsoncolumn.com.