Ferst Foundation fund-raiser soiree brings in around $15,000
By Stephanie Johns
The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy fundraiser held last Sunday raised between $10,000 and $15,000.
The foundation, begun in Morgan County in 1999, mails a book a month to registered children from birth through age five who live in participating Georgia counties.
According to the organization’s website, the foundation has given more than three million books to more than 245,000 children.
The fundraising will continue through Dec. 31. If they can raise a total of $30,000 by the end of the year they will receive another $30,000 that has been put up as challenge / matching funds, according to Babs Johnston, interim Executive Director for the Ferst Foundation.
The money will be used to increase the number of children who receive books in the 70 communities where there are now Ferst programs.
She shared that it costs $36 a year to mail books to one child.
Johnston explained that they send books to between 80 and 90 percent of children under the age of five in Morgan County.
“Many counties serve under 50 percent of eligible children,” she said. “We want to raise that to at least 50 percent.”
Johnston shared that the goal of the Ferst program is to have the program in all counties in Georgia. She said that giving books to children benefits them.
“Ninety percent or more of Morgan County students scored at or above on state tests,” she said. “We’re trying to create Morgan County in all counties; Morgan County is our model.”
Between 60 and 80 people attended the event, which was catered by Lee Epting.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “The day was perfect, absolutely perfect.”
Hosts Alex Newton and his wife Besty Wagenhauser opened their home, Bonar Hall on Dixie Avenue in Madison, for the event.
Johnston credited Ferst Board Chair Gay Vaughan for working “tirelessly on behalf of Ferst for the past several years.” She also acknowledged Ginger and Harry Beverly as “staunch supporters and key players in the planning of this fundraiser.”
Four Ferst ‘graduates’ referred to as “The First of the Ferst” attended the event. The four are now in high school.
“These are solid teenagers,” she said. “They are squared away.”
Jonathan Jones, a more recent Ferst ‘graduate,’ read a book titled Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen to Ferst founder Robin Ferst.
“He read with expression,” she said, adding that he had Robin and the audience laughing. “He was adorable, the hit of the program.”
Ferst Board Member Dr. Stan DeJarnett was their keynote speaker. Johnston said DeJarnett has written a letter used by the organization in which he attributes the success of Morgan County students with the fact that they received books through this program.
Dr. Wayne Myers, president of the Morgan County Community Action Team, also spoke during the brief program.
“He talked about a recent study which shows children who got Ferst books do 50 percent better than kids who didn’t receive the books,” she said.
Donations for this fundraiser will be accepted through the end of the year and may be mailed to Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, PO Box 1327, Madison, GA 30650 or may be submitted online at www.ferstfoundation.org.
Printed in the November 15, 2012 edition