BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) -- The ability to read is a ticket to success. That’s why two Brunswick County educators are forming the Juna Foundation. It’s a project all about getting books in the hands of kids in honor of two women who battled cancer and both had a love for literature.
"You can learn a lot by reading, and you can get really far in life,” Bolivia Elementary fourth grader Christopher McDuffie said.
McDuffie loves to read thanks to his Assistant Principal Melissa Harris, who is also the co-founder of Juna.
"It's the one way that they can have a ticket to anything,” Harris said. “They can enter a world that they would never be able to enter. They can go places they would never be able to go."
"It's fun, and it can help you calm down,” third grader Kayla McDuffie said.
"You can learn many facts from it, and for fictional books, it's fun to see the surprise at the end,” third grade student Pearce Quinn said.
Quinn’s mom is also a teacher at Bolivia Elementary and says the passion for prose has spread to her husband, too.
"It’s just exciting for them to be able to compare an contrast what they are getting from the book,” Kristen Quinn said. “It's just great. I mean, he's excited. Any time a child gets excited about reading, it makes things so much easier."
The name Juna is a combination of the two women the foundation is in honor of: Amy’s sister June who is terminally ill with cancer, and Melissa’s mom Vina who died of cancer in 2003. Both women had a deep love for literacy.
"I would like to pay it forward, all of the good things that have happened to her in her life,” Juna co-founder and Bolivia Elementary teacher Amy Frink said. “The good memories we have, I would like to be able to give children books so that they can create those same good memories at home."
"My picture of Heaven is a room that's filled with book stacks, and I'm sitting down reading with my mom,” Harris said. “I know that she is thrilled that every breath that these children take, she's contributing to their legacy."
So far, the Juna Foundation has given more than 5,000 books to kids in southeastern North Carolina. The Juna Foundation adds hope by bringing books and the love of reading into children's lives
The foundation just received a 3,000-book donation they plan to hand out before spring break. Harris and Frink also have plans to keep the library open over the summer for kids who don't have access to many books at home. They also hope to set up a scholarship fund and bookmobile soon.
If you are interested in donating books, contact Harris or Frink at (910) 253-6516.