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Domtar Opens Reading Rooms in Ashdown, Plymouth

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Categories: Giving Back

This year, Domtar and its vendor partners are helping elementary schools in 10 communities create reading rooms, which are special spaces dedicated to helping children develop a love of reading and learning.

Through this generous partnership, Ben Carson Reading Rooms have opened at L.F. Henderson Intermediate School in Ashdown, Arkansas, and at Creswell Elementary in Creswell, North Carolina. Eight other reading rooms will open at the beginning of the 2016–17 school year. Domtar first partnered with the Carson Scholars Fund in 2012 to open a reading room in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania.

The reading rooms are a collaborative effort involving local educators, school volunteers, Domtar employees and representatives of the Maryland-based Carson Scholars Fund, which created the Ben Carson Reading Room initiative in 1996 to promote literacy and reading as keys to unlocking a child’s full potential.

The book-filled rooms are custom-designed for each school and feature colorful décor and comfortable furnishings. The goal is to creating a reading-rich environment where students discover the joy of reading for fun.

Domtar employees in Ashdown worked closely with L.F. Henderson Intermediate School staff to prepare the new reading room. They constructed boxes to store seating cushions, helped assemble furniture and stamped the more than 500 books that had been donated for the room.

“Education and literacy are core areas of focus and giving for Domtar,” said Tammy Waters, manager of communications and government relations for the Ashdown Mill. “That’s why the Ben Carson Reading Room project is a perfect opportunity and fit for the Ashdown Mill and our employees.”

Keith Fricks, principal of L.F. Henderson Intermediate School, was pleased to participate in the program. “We believe our students will truly benefit from the Ben Carson Reading Room, and we will diligently promote Ben Carson’s idea of ‘Think Big’ and encourage our students to always strive to reach their full potential.”

Allan Bohn, mill manager of Domtar’s Plymouth Mill in Plymouth, North Carolina, said,“When a child opens a book, he or she opens up a world of possibilities. We encourage the students at Creswell Elementary to think big and take advantage of the opportunity to continue to develop the skills necessary to become lifetime readers and learners.

“The employees at the Domtar Plymouth Mill would also like to congratulate and thank the key corporate suppliers that donated so generously to help make this a reality.”

A student enjoys the new reading room at Creswell Elementary School

Thirty-one Domtar vendors donated $160,000 to the Carson Scholars Fund to support the new reading rooms. Much of the funds were raised during a golf outing.

“We applaud the philanthropic vision and giving spirit of Domtar and its vendor partners for making the largest donation earmarked exclusively for reading rooms that we have received to date,” said Amy Warner, executive director of the Carson Scholars Fund. The Ben Carson Reading Project is an initiative of the Carson Scholars Fund, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994 by retired, world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson and his wife, Candy.

Today, Ben Carson Reading Rooms are in 138 schools, 85 percent of which serve predominantly low-income students in 17 states. The rooms  contain more than 69,000 books and have benefited more than 63,000 students since the project began 20 years ago.