Parnell’s retirement gift of literacy

PROSPERITY -- After over 30 years in education, newly retired teacher Donna Parnell is still working to help educate children in the community through the new lending library outside of Prosperity Drug (101 N Main Street, Prosperity).

“Mrs. Parnell wanted a lending library as her retirement gift, to put out in the community for any student to be able to go and get a book at their leisure. They can return the book or put in different books, it’s a great community project and she always wants to give back,” said April Peel, principal at Prosperity-Rikard Elementary, where Parnell taught for more than three decades.

Parnell said there were a couple of reasons she wanted a lending library, first being that she has always loved the idea.

“There was a time I read an article about libraries without boundaries, there were books and things put in the laundromat and a group of librarians who would go have story time at the laundromat,” Parnell said. “In January, I found out I was going to be a grand-mama, I came to April and told her I was going to retire and keep my grand-baby and then I told her I had a bossy little request.”

Parnell told Peel she wanted the lending library and she said Peel made it happen.

“And it’s more beautiful than I could ever have imagined,” she said.

Peel said in creating the library, Mid-Carolina High School teacher, Jason Long built the lending library. Teachers at Prosperity-Rikard, Brittany Frick, Amy Hawkins, Robin White, helped paint and decorate the library. Debra Templin supplied the books. Austin Willingham, of Willingham and Son’s Building Supply, even donated the materials.

“We contacted Mr. John W. Pugh to see if we could put it at Prosperity Drug and he agreed,” Peel said.

When it comes to reading, Parnell said books can take you places and if you are a successful reader, chances are you can grow to be a successful adult.

“That is why I think literacy is so important, but I think the little library is really important because kids can get the books on their own,” she said. “April and I talked a lot about where it should go, it needed to be a place the kids were maybe already going to be, where they didn’t have to travel to get there and they don’t have to have a library card.”

Parnell said the location of the lending library (at Prosperity Drug) is easily accessible and a lot of children walk that route.

While the lending library is now out and available be utilized, Parnell said she has one addition she’d like to make.

“I want to make inserts to go into the books, one thing I saw said: read, love, share, return. It explains the process to those who would go by and choose their books. Read the book, love it, share it, then return it for a different one,” she said.

The community is already helping to support the lending library, Glenn Hamm (Hamm Hardware) told Peel he had books he could contribute and others have already dropped off books with Parnell.

“I think this is a great opportunity for folks in our area to be able to come out and expand their ability to read,” said John W. Pugh. “Anything we can do to promote literacy in the community is always a good thing. This was a thoughtful retirement gift for Mrs. Parnell to dedicate to do something like this, truly benefits the community.”

The new lending library in Prosperity can be found on the side street right next to Prosperity Drug.

Parnell’s retirement gift of literacy | Newberry Observer