Using work breaks to serve others

Kathy Copeland / COMMUNITY COLUMNIST

Vincent/Harpersville

The Municipal Park in Harpersville is the beneficiary of a reading box donated by the EC Gaston Chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization. The APSO is the volunteer service arm of the Power Company and focuses on helping nonprofit groups and charitable projects throughout Alabama.

This nonprofit organization, comprised statewide of more than 4,000 employees of Alabama Power and their families, has 10 chapters which provide 90,000 volunteer hours to Alabama communities each year.

The EC Gaston Chapter promotes education, the enhancement of child health and safety and meeting the critical human needs of the citizens of Shelby County and surrounding areas.

“Our mission is to support community needs through charitable programs;” said Jodi Webb, the group’s leader.

Webb went on to explain that the reading box is part of the “Take a Book, Share a Book Program” which encourages reading and helps the entire community feel involved.

“These little free libraries are the world’s largest book sharing movement,” Webb said and then added with a smile, “We hope to inspire reading.”

Volunteers build, paint and erect the libraries. They use scrap material and metal found at the maintenance department. The group works during their break time to turn the scrap metal into a base that will hold the library box then the creative folks go to work.

Harpersville Municipal Park is the third location to receive a little library box. There is one at the splash pad in Pell City and another at Oak Grove near Sylacauga.

“This is a unique opportunity to be creative and support reading,” said Jason Miller, a member of the volunteer group. “It’s extra special to do something close to our own plant.”

The EC Gaston chapter is based at the steam plant in Wilsonville.

The overall theme for this library box is, “The Magic of Books,” said Webb. One of the panels and the base designed were inspired by Alice & Wonderland, according to the group. The Oak Grove box has the theme “Adventures in Reading” which was inspired by the story Jack and the Bean Stalk. The Pell City Splash Pad box is themed, “Read Everywhere” and its inspiration, “Under the Sea.”

The box at the Harpersville Park was placed next to a bench. It is easy to envision a parent or grandparent sitting on the bench watching children play, then when ready for a break, reaching for a book.

“Having a book read to you while sitting on a bench at the park is a memory that will last with a child forever,” said Mayor Don Greene.

In agreement, volunteer Tabetha Lemonds said, “I love that our employees can take broken parts and transform them into amazing pieces of artwork.

“The hope is that we are making a difference,” added volunteer Kamber Nwransky.

Everyone using the park is invited to borrow a book or add one to the box with the caution that materials need to be appropriate for young eyes.

Kathy Copeland is a community columnist for the Vincent/Harpersville area.