This is a post in our new series highlighting the people and programs of the public libraries of Virginia. To view more posts about our Commonwealth’s great libraries visit our Public Libraries category. New content will appear on the second Monday of the month.

This post is by guest blogger Sue Brooks, Early Literacy Specialist at the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System.

The Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System held its fourth annual early literacy fundraiser, titled “Rock ‘n Read,” on 6 December 2019. Fourteen local artists donated their time and talents to paint nine donated guitars, four ukuleles, and one hand-built cigar box guitar to put up for auction.

The early literacy fundraising event originated four years ago, when the First Baptist Church of South Boston donated ten mule-eared children’s chairs to Early Literacy Specialist Sue Brooks. “A light just went off in my head when I saw them,” said Brooks. “I knew that we could paint the chairs and raise money for the early literacy program.”

The recent Rock ‘n Read fundraiser was a wonderful evening featuring music provided by Duane Brown of the Brown Brothers, with local musician and luthier Gordon Barnes accompanying him on his homemade cigar box guitar. Southern Plenty of South Boston provided heavy hors d’oeuvres, and Hunting Creek Vineyards of Nathalie donated wine.

Under a Tree by Rachel Smith

“I don’t think we could have had more fun raising money than we did this evening”, said Brooks, “Folks were singing, enjoying good food and wine, all while bidding on a beautiful array of instruments.”

The inaugural fundraiser took place on the first Friday evening in December 2016, kicking off the Christmas season. Silent auction bids for the chairs brought in $1,200 for the program.

Cigar Box Guitar built by Gordon Barnes

Over the next two years, the event featured bookshelves and rocking chairs for local artists to paint with images of their favorite children’s books. Partnerships with community businesses yielded donations of door prizes. The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Innovation Department served as a partner, and Lowe’s provided deep discounts on materials.

The more than $1,700 in funds raised from the event will go towards the development of early literacy services and the children’s areas of the Halifax and South Boston Public Libraries.

The organizers would like to thank everyone who came out for the event, and the fabulous people whose contributions of time and talent made it all possible.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Sue Brooks

Sue Brooks

Early Literacy Specialist at the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System

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