Annual literacy association book sale set for May 6-7

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Imagine there’s a wall cutting you off from those you love and a brighter future

On the other side of that wall is so many things, both big and small.

Love letters. Emails. Street signs. Maps. Newspapers. A voting ballot. Your children’s homework instructions. Job applications. Books. The Bible.

And you’re trapped behind that wall, unable to understand these things, unable to navigate the world.


Because you don’t know how to read. Perhaps it’s a secret you’ve kept from those you love, so they don’t even know about the wall you’re trapped behind.

The volunteers at the Pickens County Literacy Association help tear down that wall and open up a wider world for their students

The Pickens County Literacy Association provides one-to-one tutoring to its students to help them overcome illiteracy.

Director Everette Curl has been involved with the organization, which was started by the Pickens Jaycees, for many years.

She became involved when Ben Bagwell, a former employee of the Pickens Sentinel, asked her to take part. Bagwell was a former president of the organization.

“He really initiated this in Pickens,” Curl said. “He was very, very interested in literacy and got me interested.”

At that time, connecting the students with tutors was “really a struggle,” Curl said.

She went door-to-door in a poor neighborhood in Central, looking for tutors.

To meet the need, the PCLA hired Southern Wesleyan University students to tutor those in need of the program.

Today, the organization is staffed entirely by volunteers.

“They’re all volunteering because they want to,” Curl said. “It’s very gratifying. Everybody seems to love it.”

Volunteers enjoy seeing their students flourish. Curl said one of PCLA board member Harry Holladay’s students went on to become a tutor.

“That was outstanding,” she said.

The association provides training sessions and materials to its volunteers.

The PCLA operates on the “each one teach one” method.

“When we teach somebody, when they go all the way through, we hope they will turn around and teach someone else,” Curl said.

Anyone is welcome to use the PCLA’s services. There is no cost to students. All services and materials provided to students are free.

“We take all ages,” Curl said. “Nobody’s turned away.”

The association meets with students at locations across Pickens County, often at the library branches.

“We get a lot of referrals from the library,” Curl said.

In recent years, the association’s English as a second language program has become popular.

The PCLA is entirely funded by donations and the proceeds from its semi-annual book sales.

“All of the money is used for the materials and the students,” Curl said. “We’re constantly looking for new students.”

The next book sale will be held May 6-7 at the All Saints Hall at Pickens Presbyterian Church.

On May 6, the sale kicks off at 9 a.m. and will run until 6 p.m. On May 7, the sale will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Thanks to the generosity of the PCLA’s many donors and volunteers, there will be tables filled with hard and paperback books, children’s books, cookbooks, self-help books, coffee table books and more.

“We’ll have books of all sorts,” Curl said.

In addition to the books, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, cassettes and tapes will also be on sale.

For more information on the Pickens County Literacy Association or to volunteer, call Curl at (864) 878-9642.