At the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade today, over 5,000 new books and 10,000 bookmarks will be provided free to children and youth. This day of service project, called the MLK Parade of Books Project, extends the traditional celebration of Dr. King’s birthday to a literary gift and provides a day of service to the youth and adults who volunteer to hand this literary treat to the more than 10,000 parade participants.
This fourth year day of service project marks over 15,000 books and 36,000 bookmarks that have been provided since the 2010 parade. Community partners like Bethel AME Church, Gulf Power, International Paper, Nowak Enterprises (McDonald’s), WRNE 980 AM Radio, Pensacola News Journal, Greater Mount Lily Church, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, First Friday Networking, Greg Green Construction Management & Consulting, Pensacola Police Department, Townsend Press, First Book, Jesus Holy Tabernacle Church, and Arlene’s BBQ, have partnered with Bethel Youth Development and Robert Robino Productions to provide these books and bookmarks in this collective community project. The continued and growing commitment from these community partners has allowed for 25% more books to be provided this year.
“We’re honored to continue to build on the strong foundation of Pensacola’s local committee, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration Commission,” said Rev. Charles Morris, the executive director of Bethel Youth Development. “Under the direction of the new parade chairper-son, Rev. John Powell, and the parade chair emeritus, Robert Jackson, they have given this project an amazing platform to touch the lives of thousands of our young and future leaders.”
One of the re-turning sponsors, Lloyd Reshard of Tip or Tap Marketing, an engineering consulting group, has no doubt about why he contributes to the project.
“I’m interested in every student learning about STEM—science, technology, engineering and math. This means that I’m interested in reading and literacy as the foundation to each one of those disciplines,” Reshard said. “It serves our community and our future well for me to make an investment today.”
Volunteers participating with the MLK Parade of Books will hand out the age- and grade-appropriate books at the parade. This year also marks the first year that graphic artist and book illustrator Ira Gates has designed the logo for the project.
Bethel Youth Development, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization designed to provide academic assis-tance, educational support, and social development programs for youth of the greater Pensacola area. We are committed to working with families, schools, churches, and other organizations to improve the social, emotional, and economic status of community members. With a goal is to empower people to help each other, Bethel Youth Development is committed to providing community support that stimulates the economic development and upward mobility of individuals and families within the community.