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Resolution run: Racing for literacy funding

More than 100 runners and walkers participated in Saturday’s Leggin’ it for Literacy 5K at The Thread, which supported literary programs in LaGrange and Troup County.

The run provides funding for scholarships for the Troup County Certified Literate Community Program, which supports reading programs and pays for qualified individuals to take the GED test. 

“We want to make education the buzz word in Troup County,” said Debbie Burdette, the Troup County CLCP director. “We want to be a literate community, where people live, work and play, and they set education as a priority.”

Burdette said the GED test can be expensive, especially for people with a low paying job or no job at all. 

“The GED test costs $160. If you have a minimum wage job or no job, that’s out of reach,” Burdette said. “We provide the scholarships for that, and we provide dictionaries for third graders and books for First Steps at the library.”

The CLCP also dedicated a new Little Free Library Saturday at Granger Park, near the roundabout on The Thread. The libraries are full of books and allow anyone passing by a chance to grab one and read.

Burdette said many of the libraries around the city are frequently used, including the one at the playground at Granger Park. She said a dirt spot has formed in front of that library location, showing how often someone stops by to look at the selection of books.   

“A dirt spot doesn’t mean a lot to a lot of people, but it means a lot to me,” Burdette said. “That means they have been standing there looking and getting books.”

April Pennington, who helped organize the race, said the turnout was good, especially considering this was the first Leggin’ it for Literacy 5K in the winter. She estimated 100 people ran in either the 5K or 1-mile run. 

“We are happy with that,” Pennington said. 

Burdette, who may be better known as Mama Jama in Troup County, said Saturday’s race was the 18th annual run. She said after nearly two decades the battle to increase literacy continues in Troup County. 

“It’s a slow process because we are fighting generational poverty,” she said. “We are fighting generational literacy, where people dropped out of school, and they could still get good jobs, but that’s not the way it is anymore. The graduation rate is bumping up a little bit, but it’s baby steps, and it’s going to take generations to make those changes. That’s what we’re working on.”

Burdette said there are many ways people can help, if they’d like to join the literacy movement. 

“We need volunteers to be on the CLCP board, to go into the schools to read, to help tutor the GED students,” Burdette said. “The Literacy Volunteers of America, we work with them. They tutor the very beginning adult readers who really have challenges. We are all working together to make education a priority in Troup County.”

The next event from the CLCP will be the trivia bee in February. Joshua Turman, a LaGrange High School student, finished first in the 5K with a time of 21 minutes, 38 seconds. Megan Hunter was the first woman to finish the 5K with a time of 21 minutes, 59 seconds.