Haley’s foundation joins with AT&T, state agency for rural book drive

abeam@thestate.comJuly 29, 2013 

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

Gov. Nikki Haley’s Original Six Foundation is partnering with AT&T and the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles – an agency that reports to the governor – on a statewide book drive to benefit children from rural counties.

Haley, who grew up in rural Bamberg County, made the announcement Monday at the Eastover branch of the Richland County public library. From Aug. 5-17, people can donate new or gently used children’s books or S.C. history books at any one of the 67 Motor Vehicles offices.

The foundation will donate the books to county libraries in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Clarendon, Marion, Marlboro and Union counties – counties where Haley said many children do not have Internet access and depend on local libraries for books and help with school projects.

“As we are talking about literacy in South Carolina, as we are talking about making sure that our children can read by third grade, we are asking the state and everyone around the state to join us in neighbors helping neighbors,” Haley said. “This is a perfect opportunity to clean out your bookshelves – which is what my kids and I are doing ... and ... to include your children and let them know that while they may be blessed there are a lot of children who don’t have those same opportunities.”

The Department of Motor Vehicles is a Cabinet agency that reports directly to Haley. And Motor Vehicles’ director, Kevin Shwedo, is a board member of the Original Six Foundation, a charitable group that Haley created after she was elected governor.

Haley, a Republican, is up for re-election next year. She has not officially announced her candidacy, but is widely expected to seek a second term, having raised more than $2 million.

Haley said the book drive is not part of her political campaign, but a way to help rural communities and “give them a step up so that they can feel good about themselves.”

Haley said her foundation is not the only charity using state property to collect contributions.

“If you look at the State House, in every one at the State House buildings right now, I’ve got Harvest Hope food-bank boxes out there,” Haley said. “I mean, it is what we do because government can’t do everything. The private sector can do so much and wants to do a lot.”

Shwedo said the book drive fits in perfectly with his agency’s “community engagement plan,” ensuring Motor Vehicles’ offices are active in local communities. Shwedo said the boxes to collect the books were donated, and a private organization is going to transport the donated books. AT&T donated $12,000 to pay for the book-drive’s logistics, according to Ted Creech, director of external affairs for AT&T in South Carolina.

“All we’ve got to do is collect the books,” Shwedo said.

The S.C. Democratic Party Saturday announced a statewide school-supply drive, which includes books, said spokeswoman Kristin Sosanie. Sosanie said the party will have at least one drop-off location in every county, most likely local party offices.

“We are doing it at our own location and not asking them to use state resources,” she said.

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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