I was on a visit to Greendale Elementary in New Ellenton recently and they were having a book fair. It was very interesting to see how excited all of the kids were, all lined up to buy themselves a book. Loretta Childress, the reading interventionist at Greendale, was escorting all of the students and helping them pick out suitable books. I soon noticed one young man, probably 6 or 7 years old, who was just standing by watching all of the excitement. I soon discovered from Loretta that the young man did not have any money to purchase a book.

Well, like most all of us would have done, I could not let that happen. I was just really happy to purchase this very nice, polite young man a book about cars. The light in this student’s eyes when he got his book was something you just don’t see every day. I think it was $10 and that look was worth 10 times that. He must have thanked me a hundred times, as did Childress (along with a few tears because this student was able to get himself a book). He asked her if she would help him read it. I am very proud to say that I know Loretta Childress, and she was helping him within minutes, I can assure you of that.

Greendale Elementary is located on South Boundary Avenue in New Ellenton. It is, as are many of our schools, a Title One school, which means that many, if not most, of the students there qualify for free or reduced lunches. I have lived in Aiken for 30 plus years, and my children were educated in our public schools.

I honestly think, in such a wonderful community, with such wonderful, giving and kind residents, that the reason we have this issue in many of our public schools is that most residents simply are not aware of the situation. I believe that if we were all better informed about this, that we, Aiken County residents, would come together and correct the problem.

Unfortunately, as I said, Greendale is not the only elementary school with this issue. In fact, most of the elementary schools in Aiken County are, in fact, Title One Schools. Therefore, if you would like to purchase a book or two for a Greendale Elementary Student, or a student at any of our elementary schools, you can either send a check to Public Education Partners with Greendale Elementary or the school of your choice on it or send a check directly to the school and write “book project” on it. If you send to Public Education Partners, you will receive a tax deduction for the full amount and 100 percent of the donation will go to Greendale or your school (not 99 percent, but 100 percent). Either way is fine.

The address for Public Education Partners is 208 F The Alley, Aiken, S.C. 29801, and for Greendale Elementary, it is 505 S. Boundary Ave., New Ellenton, S.C. 29809.

I am very proud to say that I’ve taken a check to Greendale for the Book Fair for $245, which was donated to Public Education Partners recently by several members of our board of directors.

Stuff like this doesn’t surprise me anymore – it’s just something that our board members do. I get to work with these wonderful people.

Jeff Howell is the director of Public Education Partners, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening our education system.