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River of Word poems, art on display
Keep Liberty Beutiful
KLCB alana handman08
An example of the art that is on display in the River of Words. - photo by Photo provided.
Rain, rain, rain
Falling down from the clouds.
Wet rain, dark clouds
How wet is the rain?
Cold rain, warm rain, wet rain
Rain storm!
Rain drops, rain drizzles
Light rain
Harder and harder and harder
Rain and rainstorm!
Some people like rain
Some people don’t
But I like rain when we’re in a drought!
— Matthew Reingold, first grade, Roswell
A 2008 Georgia State River of Words winner

Matthew’s poem is just a sample of the delightful works of poetry, art and photography on display until April 18 at the Liberty branch of the Live Oak Public Library. These creative works are part of a traveling exhibit of the work of Georgia winners in the annual River of Words Program.  Each year, in affiliation with The Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words conducts a free, international poetry and art contest for youth on the theme of watersheds. The contest is designed to help young people explore the natural and cultural history of the places where they live, and to share, through poetry and art, what they discover.  
The contest is open to any child in the world, from 5-19 years of age. Older students must have not yet completed high school. There is no charge to enter.  Students may enter on their own or as part of a group, like a classroom, Girl Scout troop or 4-H club. All entrants receive acknowledgement in the form of a "Watershed Explorer" certificate from the national organization.
Poetry submissions are judged by River of Words co-founders Robert Hass, who served as U.S. poet laureate from 1995-97, and writer Pamela Michael. Art entries are judged by children’s book writer and illustrator Thacher Hurd.  About 100 poems and works of art from both U.S. and international entries are selected as finalists each year.  The ROW Journal, a full-color printed booklet, is produced to showcase Georgia honorees. The winning works also are reproduced to become part of the traveling exhibit, hosted by the Georgia Center for the Book, which moves to libraries around the state.  
The exhibit we have for the next several weeks is also available for checkout to schools, nature centers and other educational facilities. This is a wonderful showcase of the creative talents of Georgia youngsters. I hope you will take the opportunity to visit the display.

From art exhibits to reading projects

In my opinion, one of the best community projects in Liberty County is happening this week. On April 9, Read Across Liberty Day will provide more than 150 readers from the community to read books in classrooms in 15 schools. Sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse Liberty, the Rotary Club of Hinesville, Kiwanis Club of Liberty County and Target, this event, which occurs in the spring and the fall, provides an opportunity for many Liberty County children to share in the joy of reading with adults.
Local sponsors understand the significance of reading to children. Research certainly shows that when adults (other than family members) spend time with children and show they care, the children are more likely to grow up and become more productive members of society. We can all recognize how essential it is to encourage children growing up in our world today. Forming support networks for children by reading to them is a great way to build students’ confidence.  
This year, the project, through the leadership of United Way Director Leah Poole, is kicking the event up a notch by going “green.”  All the books read on April 9 will have a positive environmental message. There are many books available that focus on great, Earth-friendly topics, such as recycling, litter prevention and conserving and preserving natural resources. The good news for kids is that these books are also delightfully interesting to read. In addition, Read Across Liberty Day planners will give more than 5,000 books to participating students. What a gift!  There are many children in our area who do not have the luxury of owning books to read at home. This truly is a magnificent project. Hats off to Leah and these civic and business leaders for making this magical reading day happen.
I also want to let you know that many local organizations currently are accepting items for recycling to raise funds for community projects, such as the Liberty County Humane Shelter.
The shelter is currently competing in a national contest for a $1 million makeover, but every day local volunteers are collecting aluminum cans and ink cartridges to raise money to care for the animals. Those who know me understand that our pug, Herschel Walker Swida, aka Chunk, has been a valued part of our family for almost 14 years. He is one of the lucky ones.
Many animals are left to fend for themselves, so thank goodness for shelter volunteers who keep them safe and fed. Recycle your ink cartridges by dropping them off at the shelter between 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.  Bags of aluminum cans and foil can be placed in the outside drop box anytime. And, of course, continue to support the shelter in the contest by registering at

More upcoming KLCB events that need your help:
• Through April 18: River of Words display at the Liberty County Library.
• Through May 15:  Recycle 4 Liberty contest in schools. Schools will collect PET #1 plastic bottles and the tops of aluminum cans.
• Through April 10: School campus cleanup conference playoffs.
• April 9: Read Across Liberty Day goes green.
• April 18: Walthourville cleanup.
• April 25, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Hinesville, Highway 84 and more day.
• April 22, 3-5:30 p.m. Earth Day in the park.  
• Live Oak Photo Exhibit on display at Melon Bluff for spring hours through April 19: Noon-4 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. on Sundays.
• May 2, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Gum Branch cleanup.

For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact Sara Ann Swida at 368-4888 or

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