Bargains for Books to benefit, support youth literacy programs

Margaret Wilbourne

The Literacy Council of West Alabama reports that one in four Alabama residents are functionally illiterate. Leadership Tuscaloosa is hoping to change that statistic by hosting Bargains for Books, a garage sale that will benefit youth literacy in the area, Saturday.

“Our hope is to benefit programs teaching children to read and move forward with their education instead of falling behind and increasing the high school dropout rate in our area,” said Casey Johnson, event coordinator.

Leadership Tuscaloosa is a year-long class sponsored by the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and seeks applicants who “demonstrate leadership skills [and] active involvement in the community.”

“Each year, the Leadership Tuscaloosa class is required to come up with a project for community outreach in West Alabama,” Johnson said. “The class of 2014 came up with the idea to have a charity garage sale to benefit youth literacy.”

Donations of furniture, clothes and other garage sale fare are being accepted, and all profits will be donated to local Boy Scouts troops, the YCMA and Tuscaloosa’s One Place. All unsold items will be donated to charity.

“[We chose] these three community nonprofits [because] they are represented by our Leadership Tuscaloosa class,” Johnson said. “They all have youth literacy programs to help youngsters develop a love for reading.”

Alyssa Di Benedetto, a senior in the multiple abilities program, said support for literacy is scarce in the Tuscaloosa area. Di Bendetto is finishing up a year-long internship in a local elementary school.

“There are definitely a lot of low-functioning students [who are] without any parent involvement or resources to work with at home,” Di Benedetto said.

“[Donations to literacy programs] would be very beneficial for these students who don’t get opportunities like the average person,” said Di Benedetto. “Sparking that interest helps them stay motivated and stay in school.

“Our students are the future, and if they don’t go anywhere, our community is never going anywhere.”

Donations for Bargains for Books can be dropped off at the Downtown Tuscaloosa YMCA through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The garage sale will be held Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon.