Students donate books to promote literacy in Hattiesburg

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A group of Hattiesburg students is making sure other children throughout the city have access to free books to improve their reading skills.

Students from United Christian Academy designed two service projects to donate 320 children's books to other kids who need them. The first, restocking 12 free little libraries throughout the city.

"If you have many books, and you don't use them anymore, that's a good place to put them for kids to read," said fourth-grader Yuliana Perez, one of the organizers of the project.

Fourth-grader Matilda Mendez said reading is a great way to learn, and wants other children to have an easy way to do both.

"There's pictures that you can see," Mendez said. "There's things that you can learn about like squares, numbers, all kinds of things.One (of the free little libraries) was empty, and we put a bunch of books in that one because it was empty. There was even a spider web in it."

While the girls organized that project, the boys from their class decided they wanted to put libraries in local barbershops.

"We had to get on the computer and look up barbershops numbers, and we had to call them and ask them can we put libraries in their barbershops so kids can learn," said 10-year-old Damaraus Bryant. "For kids that are at the barbershop, they can have more time reading. Kids go there a lot."

So far, three businesses, like Dynasty Beauty Salon on West Fourth Street, have agreed.

"I think that all the kids need books these days," said Sandra Willis, owner of Dynasty Beauty Salon. "With everything that's going on in the world, I think that books can help learn them and give them a better greeting for life."

The students agree. They know reading well is a requirement for doing well, and they want to make sure children from all walks of life have a chance to succeed.

"People from other worlds, they may not have the education that other kids might have," Perez said.

Mendez said, "They can learn and they can have a college diploma. They can graduate and go to places in the world, wherever they want to, and do a job that they want to do and follow their heart."