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RIF kicks off in Bulloch County

   If you think libraries are quiet places, you might have to think again if you happen to visit during the next two weeks.
    Instead of quiet you will hear children’s voices and the unmistakable sound of fun with a capital “F.”
    It’s time for the annual Reading Is Fundamental, or RIF, book distribution at the Statesboro Regional Library. Staff members, volunteers and, of course, all the children are celebrating.
    The RIF program at the Statesboro Regional Library has been recognized as one of the 25 most outstanding RIF programs in the world. For two weeks, which began Monday and lasting through May 9, about 4,000 children from prekindergarten through second grade will visit the library, see a funny, original puppet show, and choose a book to keep for their own. An additional 2,000 children will receive books on-site at area
    Community volunteers are welcome during the two week period to read to the children and introduce them to all the wonders found inside a book. If you have only 20 minutes, that’s enough time, and your enthusiasm is the only training you need. Call (912) 764-1344 or come by the library during regular hours if you want to help.
    RIF is a children’s literacy organization that began in Bulloch County 3½  decades ago and continues to operate in much the same way it did from the beginning, having provided almost half a million books to area children over the years. 
    According to Elaine McDuffie, the head of youth and family services at the library, RIF stands out as one of the most popular community events around. 
    “Not only does it provide free books and reading motivational activities annually to 6,000 children in five counties,” McDuffie said. “It also provides opportunities for parents and community members to get involved in encouraging children to read and learn.” 
    Funding is provided by United Way, PTOs, Friends of the Library, and private and civic contributions.
    “These days, that local funding is even more important with federal budget cuts threatening to severely limit our programming,” McDuffie said. “But thanks to the outpouring of community support, here we are again, welcoming children from every area school, introducing them to the library, and showing them how much fun reading can be!” 
    RIF helps kick off the summer reading activities at the library, so each year there’s a different theme. This year, the theme is “Dig Into Reading.” 
    Beth Hanna, the RIF coordinator, has created an atmosphere designed to make children feel the thrill of anticipation as soon as they walk in the door. The decorations are usually amazing, and this year is no different. 
    “Book distributions are held four times each day during the nine-day period with around 500 children visiting each day,” Hanna said. “Children will see a puppet play entitled ‘The HOLE Story,’ and then choose their own book to keep.” 

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