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Charlotte Amalie
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Rotary, Parks and Recreation Join Forces for Literacy

Sept. 9, 2007 — Joining with the Department of Housing Parks and Recreation, St. Croix Rotary chose Peter Carl Limpricht Park in Christiansted Saturday as the location to focus on one of the club's main areas of concern: literacy.
"This is the perfect spot," said Bonnie Messer, vice-president and chairperson of community services. "This park needs to be utilized more."
The idea for celebrating World Literacy Day this year came during a meeting with St. Claire N. Williams, acting commissioner for parks and recreation, on another topic of concern to the club, according to event coordinator Elizabeth Goggins. The former teacher was pleased at the modest turnout for an event she says the club just "pulled together" in two weeks.
She blamed the rain that threatened to come most of the day as the reason for the low attendance.
"We will definitely do this again," Goggins said. "Look at the kids, they're having a blast." Goggins was so encouraged by the event, she and Messer put their heads together and quickly decided to hold another such event Limpricht park on Sept. 29.
The small park hadn't seen such activity in a long while, and Goggins and Messer agreed that was a shame. Messer remembered playing in the park as a child.
"It's a wonderful little park and no one ever uses it," Goggins said. Having the event at the park served two purposes, Goggins explained: A light is shown on literacy issues and an unused landmark can once again serve its purpose.
Children ranging from four to 10 years old milled around leafing through books, chomping on homemade cookies and listening intently to the stories being read by Rotary members and Williams. Books are donated throughout the year, according to Rotary members, because literacy is one of the club's focus areas. Along with health and hunger, water and family issues, St. Croix Rotary makes daily strides to help combat literacy issues. Goggins said that illiteracy and the functionally illiterate are a global concern, one that "holds people back."
Myesha Schoonnaker likes chapter books and says reading comes a close second to play time in her book. The 6th grader said she does not know anyone who is a struggling reader, but said if she did, she would help them.
Carla Jarvis brought her six year-old son and his friend to the event and noted that his growing love for words has given him the urge to write stories. "He's always writing little notes," Jarvis said. Her son chose "The Silly Story of a Flea and his Dog" for his recreational reading.
"You can read for fun," Jarvis said as she looked at her son quietly listening to the story being read. "It's not always a chore."
The St. Croix Rotary accepts book donations throughout the year. You may donate books during their weekly meetings at noon Thursday or any other time at Gertrude's restaurant.
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