If you can read today’s Our View, that should qualify — more so if you were born and raised in Robeson County, which continues to have one of the state’s highest illiteracy rates, with about one in five adults unable to read and write. It’s a shameful reality, one with far-reaching consequences.
The inability to read and write is a heavy anvil to carry around on life’s journey. Pause and consider for a second that you would be unable to read not only a book, but a food label, a street sign, a song’s lyrics, a restaurant menu, or your child’s report card.
All that adds value to the latest initiative by the Robeson County chapter of the United Way, which has always been up for the task, but this time is genuinely reaching for the stars. The agency is trying to raise $500,000 to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Robeson County, launching the effort during the most challenging of times, when this county is nose-deep in a relentless recession.
Imagine, if you can, the benefit of placing a new book each month into the hands of every child in this county who has yet to reach his or her sixth birthday. There is nothing better than a good book to inspire literacy because hard work suddenly becomes a vacation at Disney World — and a book is so much better in a child’s hands than a joy stick.
United Way, piggybacking TV’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars,” has enlisted 42 brave souls for a dance competition that is less about shaking a leg than twisting an arm. These Robesonians will spend the next few months working on dance routines for a climatic evening on March 24, but the heavy lifting will be done in advance. Each has been assigned the task of raising $5,000 by persuading relatives, friends and complete strangers to cast a $10 vote in their favor.
That done, another $100,000 would be needed, and United Way officials say they have a private donor who will write the check.
Today’s Our View is an effort to help these civic-minded individuals cast their nets a little bit wider. Grab yesterday’s The Robesonian and you won’t have to look long to find the names of the 42 folks whom Sandra Oliver, executive director of the United Way, convinced to risk ridicule all for a good cause.
Then, in the spirit of the season, cast your vote for a favorite or three. That can be done at www.unitedwayrobeson.org, by stopping at the United Way office at 202 N. Chestnut St. in Lumberton, or by sending a check mail to P.O. Box 2652, Lumberton, N.C., 28359.
Robeson County, if it is to shed the shackles of so many societal ills, first must find a way to conquer illiteracy, and that can only be done a single child at a time. United Way is taking on the challenge, but it can’t do it alone. Donate $10 or a mulitple — and expand a child’s universe.