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Kiwanis Club donates 702 books to preschoolers
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Local Kiwanis Club officials wanted to help Newton County’s youngest students became better readers, so they set out to place a book into the hands of every single preschooler in the public school system.

In all, the Kiwanis Club of Covington gave away 702 books to preschool students and read to preschool classes at every elementary school in the Newton County School System and area private schools.

“In Covington and Newton County, there are a lot of kids that are below reading level. Books are luxury items to some of them,” said Anla Etheridge, the chairwoman of local club’s Young Children Priority One program, which focuses on children from newborns up to age 5.

“It’s a very specific demographic, and in the past, our Kiwanis Club hasn’t done any large-scale services geared toward that group.”

Etheridge and her husband, who designs library system software, spend a lot of time talking about the issue of reading ability lagging at an early age.

“If you look at all the national stats, if you read to children, their IQ scores go up and they score better on tests. It’s a long chain of positive results that comes from reaching to children early,” she said. “I thought this was a way to make a large impact with a relatively small cost.”

She worked on logistics with fellow club member Craig Lockhart who also happens to be the deputy superintendent of schools for the Newton County School System.

On the other end, Kohl’s donated some books and club members were able to purchase books at a deep discount, helping the club spend less than $3 per book.

Given the success of the program, Etheridge plans to run the program again next year, and she’s willing to accept any help. To learn how to help with the program, email the club at or visit the club’s Facebook page.

Anyone is invited to attend the club’s weekly meetings, which take place at 12:30 p.m., every Thursday at the First United Methodist Church (use the entrance off Church Street); guests are asked to RSVP by email if possible.