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PHOTOS: “Leap for Literacy” event raises $3500 for Dawson County Wee Books program
Representatives of Kilough Elementary School, dressed as the “Dunkin’ Donuts”, jump into Lake Lanier during the March 26 “Leap for Literacy” event. - photo by Erica Jones

Despite cold temperatures and wind, dozens of community members came out to War Hill Park this past weekend to jump into the chilly Lake Lanier in support of childhood literacy, raising $3500 for local nonprofit Dawson County Wee Books Program. 

Representatives of Robinson Elementary School jump into Lake Lanier during the March 26 “Leap for Literacy” event. - photo by Erica Jones

During the annual event, community members and groups raise money for the nonprofit by signing up to “leap” (jump), “ramp run” (wade) or “toe tap” (stick their feet into) into Lake Lanier. The leapers, ramp runners and toe tappers are then judged on their costumes and performances during their chosen activity. 

This year, the event raised approximately $3500 for the Wee Books program, an amount which will make a huge difference for the program, according to Chairwoman Karmen Pharris. Since the nonprofit hasn’t been able to host the Leap for Literacy fundraiser for the past two years, she said that the community’s support has really kept Wee Books afloat. 

“Fundraising really took a hit over the last two years, but the community and business leaders really stepped up to help us,” Pharris said. “For two years we haven’t been able to do this fundraiser, so we’re thrilled to start back and be back in business.” 

A representative of Black’s Mill Elementary School jumps into Lake Lanier during the March 26 “Leap for Literacy” event. - photo by Erica Jones

The Dawson County Wee Books Program is designed to get books in the hands of children before they go to kindergarten, to begin cultivating a love for literacy before they even set foot in school. According to Pharris, the program is currently sending out about 800 books a month to children in the community. Each child in the program receives one free, age-appropriate book each month from age 0 through when he or she goes into kindergarten. 

“We’ve been doing this since 2008, and total books in the county is going on about 125,000 over these years,” Pharris said. “So we’ve built a lot of little libraries at home — we want early childhood reading; it just benefits them so much when they start school.”

For more information about Dawson County Wee Books Program, its mission in the community and how to donate, go to