Help POP Prepare for Back-to-School Giving!

Since this time last year, the POP Project has donated over 4,000 books to children’s educational programs, low-income schools, and services. But as we prepare for the 2014-2015 school year and our next youth giving cycle, we currently have less than half of that amount to give!

With our resources last year, we were able to make an impact on several thousand children ages 3-18 in Buncombe County and surrounding areas! Many of these books went into the classrooms to help build students’ vocabularies, reading skills, and passion for books. Many more went home with the young students of our community who have limited access to books and other resources, and whose literacy is dependent on having access to books of an appropriate reading level in their home.

Reports have shown that access to print materials is the critical variable in dramatically improving a child’s reading skills and attitude toward reading. However, 61 percent of low income homes have exactly zero age-appropriate books for the children in their homes. In fact, some studies have even reported that in certain neighborhoods below the poverty line, there is only one book for every 300 children.

POP Project’s children’s and youth book giving initiative works hard to ensure that children within our own community have a greater access to the books that will make the biggest impact on their levels of literacy now and their greater overall educational success.

Make a Difference by Giving Books!

Help POP sustain our children’s and youth reading initiatives through the 2014-2015 school year at our current – or perhaps an even higher – level! Please give your gently used books now.

We are now taking everything from board and picture books to beginning readers, chapter books, and high school-level novels. Every books makes a difference to a child in our community.

Contact us today if you have any P-12 books to donate. For small donations (up to one small box), please visit one of our drop boxes around town. Your donation will provide a greater access to books for students at low-income schools and within children’s/youth programs in Buncombe County.

We have our kids' books sorted and ready for back-to-school giving, but we only have half of what we had to give last year! Contact us to donate your gently used P-12 books today!

We have our kids’ books sorted and ready for back-to-school giving, but we only have half of what we had to give last year! Contact us to donate your gently used P-12 books today!

Ohio Teens Help POP Make a Big Impact in One Afternoon!

Last week, a group of 10 teens and supervisors helped POP make some big deliveries. The group came all the way from Cincinnati to participate in the Lutheridge program based in Arden. As part of the program, the teens engaged in a variety of service activities, and POP was one of the groups they helped while in the area.

During their morning with POP, the group sorted and counted books, picking those most appropriate for their delivery locations. They then boxed up the books and split into two teams. Each team delivered to two of four locations in Asheville: the Children First Family Resource Center in Emma, Haywood Street Congregation’s community library, Homeward Bound’s A-HOPE Day Center, and the Buncombe County Detention Center.

Altogether, the teens helped deliver 465 books to benefit low readers and those with low access to books in our community. By our estimates, that’s about $2,300 in books that have found new homes!

The POP Project wants to thank the awesomely helpful group of teens for their hard work in helping us prepare and make those deliveries! You all have truly helped make an impact in our community.

How You Can Help, Too

The POP Project is always looking for new agencies and organizations whose clients would benefit from a greater access to books. We currently have a surplus of books in the following categories: adult fiction, history, self help, religion/spirituality, cookbooks, home and garden, psychology and sociology, and more.

If you know of anyone who would benefit from these books, please email us at

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Introducing the New POP Project Board of Directors!

For several months over the spring, the POP Project was actively searching for new board members. Today, we are happy to announce that we have three new members who are dedicated to advancing POP’s mission in the community.

New Board Members

Elizabeth Garzarelli, Acting Spokesperson

Elizabeth has years of experience working with publishers like Golden Books and currently works as an executive recruiter for a search firm focused on clients in the education sector. As acting spokesperson, Elizabeth will be our contact to the public should the executive director be unavailable or have a conflict of interest.

Leslie Hawkins, Vice Chair

Leslie is the owner of Spellbound Children’s Bookshop in Reynold’s Village, which has been in Asheville for over 10 years, and a host to one of the POP Project’s dropboxes. As vice chair, Leslie will preside over board meetings in the absence of the director.

Rosanna Mulcahy, Treasurer

Rosanna is the owner of Norbury Books & Cafe, a mystery-themed bookstore slated to open soon in Weaverville. As treasurer, Rosanna will oversee the POP Project’s funds and monies, including helping us plan budgets and prepare for fundraisers.

Continuing Board Members

Sarah Giavedoni, Secretary of the Board

Sarah has been a volunteer with the POP Project since the organization began in 2009. She currently works in higher education marketing. As secretary, Sarah will be responsible for keeping the minutes at board meetings and organizing internal and federal paperwork.

Jim MacKenzie, Executive Director & Chairman of the Board

Jim is the founder and director of the POP Project. He has been dedicated to furthering literacy in WNC since well before POP got its official start in 2009. As executive director of the POP Project, Jim is the acting chairperson of the board. He is responsible for presiding over meetings, but does not receive a vote in board decisions.

What You Can Expect

The newly developed board met for its first meeting last week, following an orientation and training session in late May. We are already planning great things for later in the summer and into the fall! At last week’s meeting we discussed website updates, possible fundraiser options, and ideas for Banned Books Week in September, among several other topics.

This board is already poised to make some great changes – within the POP Project and for the community. Stay tuned for more information about our developing projects, how you can participate with upcoming events, and the impact POP is making in the community thanks to the hard work and insight of our new team.

Left to right: Sarah Giavedoni, Rosanna Mulcahy, Elizabeth Garzarelli, Leslie Hawkins, and Jim MacKenzie

Left to right: Sarah Giavedoni, Rosanna Mulcahy, Elizabeth Garzarelli, Leslie Hawkins, and Jim MacKenzie

The Lit Council: Providing Keys to Literacy and Unlocking the Doors to Success

header_logoThe Literacy Council of Buncombe County believes that literacy changes lives for the better. We at the POP Project couldn’t agree more.

Recently, the Lit Council announced that James Patterson would be the keynote for this fall’s annual Authors for Literacy Dinner and Silent Auction. We were excited to see such a prominent author and literacy advocate back in the mountains, and featured the Lit Council here in the blog as one of our drop box locations. But after reviewing their great programs, we decided we needed to share more about their work.

Since 1987, the Lit Council has been helping the Asheville community by giving opportunities to people who don’t believe they have a second chance to learn. Low literacy doesn’t only affect an individual’s ability to enjoy a good book, but it also affects their health, their ability to support their family, and their contribution – economic and otherwise – to our community. Literacy is a tool that can help people rise out of poverty and get better paying jobs to support their families.

In addition, the best determinant of a child’s academic success is his or her mother’s level of reading skill. Therefore, the Lit Council focuses on helping the adults, as well as the children, in our community who lack basic literacy so that the next generation has a better chance of success.

The Lit Council team wakes up every morning with a passion to teach the skills of literacy to those who need them. Clients receive personal instruction and top rate materials. In return, parents are now able to read to their children, employees are now able to take on greater roles in the workplace, and people who have struggled are now able to create better, more enriching lives for themselves.

The Lit Council Makes a Big Impact

Numbers don’t lie. The Lit Council’s programs are making a big impact on our community.

  • The Lit Council serves approximately 250 students per year in their ESOL program, 50 students in the Adult Education program, and 50 students in the Augustine Project program, which helps children from low-income families.
  • Within the ESOL program, they offer citizenship tutoring. The Lit Council recently had their 100th student pass through that program. 100% of Lit Council students who study for the U.S. Naturalization exam pass their exams and become citizens.
  • Within the Adult Education program, the Lit Council recently started tutoring at Craggy Correctional Center to address the fact that 75% of state prison inmates lack a high school diploma or can be classified as low-literate.
  • 100% of students who complete the Augustine Project program improve by at least a grade level in reading,writing, and/or spelling.
  • 70% of ESOL students who complete a nine-month program through the Lit Council make significant improvement (for example, improving by at least a grade level, or going from a beginning to intermediate speaker).
  • There is still more work to be done. 12% of Buncombe County adults lack a high school diploma.
  • 43% of those with the lowest literacy rates live in poverty.

Get Involved with the Literacy Council

A lack of basic literacy skills affects not only struggling readers, but everyone in our community regardless of age, race, gender, or background. If you’re the type who likes to dig and and make a big difference one person at a time, a volunteer tutor position with the Lit Council may be a good fit for you. Here are a few upcoming training and orientation sessions:

Augustine Project: Building active, confident young readers

Two-week training in late June 2014

Contact Lily: or 828-254-3442

Adult Learning: Offering the hope and the help to improve lives

Volunteer orientation on July 16 and July 17, 2014

Contact Mary: or 828-254-3442

Support POP at the Lit Council

The Literacy Council currently houses one of the POP Project’s donation drop boxes. Stop by weekdays to learn more about volunteering with their literacy program, and drop off a few books while you’re there! The Lit Council is located in Asheville Office Park, 31 College Place, Suite B-221, Asheville, NC 28801.

James Patterson is Keynote for Annual Literacy Council Fundraiser

James Patterson understands the value of books. In addition to holding the Guinness World Record for most number one New York Times Bestsellers of any author, Patterson is an avid promoter of literacy. Through his Read Kiddo Read website, the author encourages parents to help inspire kids to be readers by helping them find books they can love.

In 2013, Patterson dropped in to Malaprop’s Bookstore downtown, and followed up by presenting them with a grant as part of his initiative to support independent American bookstores. It appears the author may be a fan of Asheville, because he’ll be back this fall. Patterson will be appearing as the keynote for the 7th Annual Authors for Literacy Dinner and Silent Auction to benefit the Literacy Council of Buncombe County.

Tickets for the event include a cocktail hour silent auction, three-course dinner and beverages, and a book signing with Patterson. The silent auction will feature local arts and crafts, autographed and rare books, travel and entertainment opportunities, and more.

If an autographed copy of his latest novel is not personal enough for you, an additional 60 people will have the chance to hang out with James Patterson at an exclusive reception before the main event. Participants get to share a meal with Patterson, ask him questions, and take photos or get autographs. This opportunity is only for the truly literacy minded, however; donors must match Patterson’s $500 gift to the Literacy Council in order to receive two tickets to join the table, and the offer is only open to the first 30 donations.

The Authors for Literacy event will be held on September 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm in the Renaissance Asheville Hotel. General tickets are $75 and are available now. Call or email Brantlee Eisenman at 828-254-3442 x206 / for more info about the event and the exclusive reception beforehand.


About the Literacy Council of Buncombe County

header_logoThe Literacy Council of Buncombe County works with approximately 300 adult students each year to improve basic math, reading, writing, and English-language skills.

Since 1987, the Lit Council has been working to improve literacy and education in a stable and encouraging environment. Trained volunteer tutors pair with students during a minimum nine-month commitment to improve self sufficiency and improve quality of life for adult learners of all ages. From reading off a restaurant menu to responding to kids’ school notes, their programs give students the skills they need to be successful and engaged members of the community.

The Literacy Council currently houses one of the POP Project’s donation drop boxes. Stop by weekdays to learn more about volunteering with their literacy program, and drop off a few books while you’re there!

The Lit Council is located in Asheville Office Park, 31 College Place, Suite B-221, Asheville, NC 28801. Visit their website to learn more about their programs and how you can help.


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