Chuck LaMarsh understands that the basis for a proper education is good reading skills. Furthermore, he believes that the best method for needy children to ascend from poverty is through a good education.
That's why the former Lakeside High School teacher founded Bundles of Books, a Martinez charity that provides new books for underprivileged children in Columbia and Richmond counties.
A second branch of the operation is run by LaMarsh's son, Chad, in the Boston area.
To help LaMarsh with his cause, Papa-N-Son's (formerly Dino's Chicago Express) on Washington Road in Evans will be donating 10 percent of its proceeds from sales generated today and Thursday to Bundles of Books.
Also, the National Honor Society of Lakeside High School is selling raffle tickets for a $25 Papa-N-Son's gift certificate with proceeds benefiting Bundles of Books.
LaMarsh hopes the extra money and added attention will boost Bundles of Books' offerings this year.
"It's always been on a very modest scale," LaMarsh said. "Last year was our largest offering to 150 kids. Before that, it was approximately 75 kids."
LaMarsh started Bundles of Books more than a decade ago as a means to give back to his community and to combat poverty.
"In Georgia ... over 60 percent of children do not read at grade level by grade three," he said. "And children who don't read at grade level by then are significantly more likely to not graduate from high school."
Though Bundles of Books donates to children as old as 14, the group also works with the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy program, which targets newborns to 5-year-olds.
"It's not just reading skills and additional vocabulary these children are getting; it's additional imagination," LaMarsh said. "If we can get to a significant number of children ... we'll start making an impact with the school system."
Bundles of Books collects new books and cash donations and then turns the books over to established groups like the Columbia County Foundation for Children and the Augusta Jewish Community Center for distribution.
All LaMarsh requests is to know the recipient's first name so he can engrave it on a bookplate to go in that child's book.
"With these families where the books are going, there is very rarely an age-appropriate literature within their homes," he said. "I want them (children recipients) to have a feeling that they have their own library, even though it might be very modest."
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