FAYETTEVILLE, NC — The United States Postal Service and United Way of Cumberland County have joined together for some special deliveries over the past six years. Recently, Cumberland County Schools showed appreciation for the role postal carriers play in promoting literacy.
Through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, United Way of Cumberland County encourages parents to register their infants to receive one free book each month until the age of five. The books will be delivered directly to the home and in the child’s name, helping him or her amass a 60-book library by Kindergarten. Studies show that 35 percent of children arrive at Kindergarten unprepared to learn; but by reading regularly with children during preschool years, parents can give them the biggest boost ever toward a successful education.
According to local United Way President and CEO Robert Hines, the Postal Service’s role is invaluable. “Postal carriers are the second step in the process. Without them we can’t get the books delivered for parents to read to their children.” Hines says carriers in Fayetteville and Hope Mills go a step beyond the ordinary. Because Cumberland County is a transient community, sometimes parents move and don’t update their addresses for the books to reach their children. Usually those books would just go undelivered. “Instead, the carriers bring back the books and set them aside for me to collect at the end of the month so I can redistribute them to our schools here,” said Hines. “That makes a huge difference.”
Those extra books for school libraries are a great benefit to the Cumberland County Schools System. Still, Superintendent Dr. Frank Till, Jr. says the most important benefit is seen in the classroom. “When children begin school with a strong foundation of reading, overall literacy improves. The key to proficiency in reading is to start early.”
Till and the Board of Education recently approved a proclamation thanking area mail carriers for their efforts. And one by one, those carriers were awarded a certificate of appreciation signed personally by Till. “We wanted to do this back in January, but the winter weather delayed us a bit. Even though the Post Office was still delivering, we were sidetracked,” Till stated during a recent visit. Hines and Till joined acting Fayetteville Postmaster Scott Cheesman on a “tour of offices” to hand out certificates and give special thanks to mail carriers in all six offices.