Oakton Library packed in a crowd Saturday night for Fairfax Library Foundation's annual fundraiser, which far exceeded its goal of $85,000 before doors even opened.
The "Library Jubilee: Let Loose in the Library" had raised more than $120,000 ahead of the event and was expected to raise more through tickets at the door, a silent auction, a live auction and donations. A final total has not yet been determined.
, helping draw record-setting ticket sales — 177 in advance — for the Jubilee.
All funds raised will benefit Fairfax County Public Library.
The foundation is a nonprofit "committed to providing supplementary support" to FCPL.
In addition to speeches from the Fairfax Library Foundation Chairman Rich Brady, FCPL Director Sam Clay, and the Jubilee co-chair Sushma Shenoy-Saluja, leaders in two of the county's literacy programs spoke to the crowd.
Dr. Mark Hopson — a facilitator with Changing Lives Through Literature, an alternative sentencing program for juvenile groups, and men on parole — spoke on the importance of not only giving a second chance to those who have made mistakes early in their lives, but provide them with the tools to seize opportunities, as well.
"[Dr. Robert Waxler, the program's founder] and his partners found that the seminar encouraged communication, interaction, patience and commitment among its participants," Hopson said. "For this group, literature became a road to insight."
Renée Edwards, who manages FCPL's Early Literacy Outreach program, explained the program's goal of making books and reading a part of children's lives as early as possible by providing storytimes to preschool and Head Start classrooms throughout the county.
"Research shows that a lot of the children from underserved families don't have books in their homes," Edwards said after explaining the program also gives books to children. "They aren't being read to on a regular basis by their parents, and these are the children entering school starting kindergarten unprepared for learning how to read and write."
Politicians and hopefuls — including U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th District) and one of his opponents, Col. Chris Perkins (R); Fairfax County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Sharon Bulova; Supervisors Linda Smyth (Providence), John Cook (Braddock) and John Foust (Dranesville); Fairfax County School Board members Patty Reed (Providence) and Ilryong Moon (At-Large); Del. Ken Plum (D); and Vienna Mayor Jane Seeman — attended the event at Oakton Library, which celebrated its fifth anniversary Sept. 29.
"We hope that Oakton hosting such a large community fundraiser during this special anniversary year will give a greater sense of community to this event, helping to spread support for libraries," Susan Harman, executive director of the Fairfax Library Foundation, said in a statement before Saturday's celebration. "We're not only celebrating the Fairfax County Public Library and the Oakton branch, but also the comunities which sustain them."
Several of the night's speeches touched on the Oakton branch's unique founding, as the community created a Friends of Oakton Library group before a library even existed.
To hear more about Oakton Library's founding, click on the video of Connolly in the top right of this article.
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