- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (AP) - Trina Eaton isn’t wearing rose-colored glasses, but she is wearing a rose-colored T-shirt with this quote on it: “Children become readers on the laps of their parents.”

And, even though she knows it’s an uphill battle - hence the clear vision - she and others have devoted countless hours, energy and money to a literacy effort at Murphysboro United Methodist Church.

“Some people didn’t believe it could make a difference,” Eaton said. “But, I think if only one child becomes a reader, if only one parent follows through on the opportunity, then it is all worth it.”

My Own Bookcase Project reached its conclusion when 30 solid-oak bookshelves and reading starter kits were given to 30 Head Start graduates. They also received a reading “starter kit,” which came in a colorful book bag.

Eaton said she and others on the church’s Service and Missions Team had been kicking around the idea of a literacy project for a few years, having heard about the Bookcase for Every Child project started by syndicated columnist Jim Davidson in 2005 in Conway, Arkansas.

“Even though there were a few doubters, we finally just said ‘We’re going to do it.’ We found many people who were interested and willing to get involved,” Eaton said. “We had lots of volunteers.”

Eaton’s husband, Bob, is primarily responsible for building the books cases. He is a partner at Asaturian Eaton & Associates, an engineering and surveying firm.

“Woodworking was a nice break from work,” he said. “But I had lots of help.”

Candace Watt was one of those who stepped up.

“I was basically the grunt,” Watt said, smiling. “He did everything else.”

Construction on the cases started in earnest in March, with the help of the project’s co-sponsor, Murphysboro Kiwanis Club. Trina, who is co-chairperson of the church team, said they also received donations from the Elks Club and the Lions Club.

Others donated time whenever they could.

“We had six people working all day to put the stain on the unfinished oak,” she said.

There was no cutting corners, either. Eaton said they could have put one coat on but decided they wanted to make the bookcases as nice as they could be.

“I would have put two coats on for my grandchildren, so these children got that, too,” Eaton said.

Eaton is hoping these little graduates will learn to love reading as much as her four grandchildren do, with the help of a loved one.

“Even if the small kids don’t understand everything you’re reading, they will always associate reading with love and comfort and memories of that special time together, on your lap. So, reading becomes a wonderful thing in their lives.”

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Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan, http://bit.ly/1cwozOZ

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

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