12/28/06 — Narron at the plate Tuesday

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Narron at the plate Tuesday

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 28, 2006 1:45 PM

Batter up!

The pickles have been packed, the coffee creamed and the doughnuts doled out. Now, with the United Way of Wayne County sitting at almost 94 percent of its $1.44 million 2006 goal, it's time for the Big Read Machine as Cincinnati Reds manager and Goldsboro resident Jerry Narron steps up to the plate for the "Bring It On" campaign.

On Tuesday, Narron will be reading to children at the Wayne County Public Library's Goldsboro Branch. He'll be hosting two sessions, one at 4 p.m. and one at 5 p.m. Both hour-long sessions are open to all county children, but because of space limitations, only 100 will be allowed into each.

To reserve spots, people can pick up tickets -- for free -- at the Goldsboro children's desk.

"We're really excited about this," assistant library director Donna Phillips said. "We're glad that in addition to raising money for the United Way, we're connecting to the community through reading."

Helping Narron read will be his dugout crew -- 10 children who will be chosen from the all-star readers who send in the answers to The Read Machine Dugout contest running in the News-Argus. The winners will be announced Sunday.

"They're going to be in the dugout there with Jerry," Phillips said.

But, she added, regardless of where the children sit, they're going to enjoy their special story hour.

"The books he selected are for a variety of ages. He's expecting it to be a family affair," she said. "He'll be reading some baseball books, but also at least one selection from Dr. Seuss because he said that was one of his favorites to read to his children."

He also might read "Casey at the Bat," but Narron said, "there'll definitely be some Dr. Seuss."

"I'm looking forward to going out and reading and seeing some kids," he added.

The United Way's also excited about Narron's story hour debut. For them it means they're almost at their goal.

"We're ecstatic to have all the local celebrities helping and he's a real big one," United Way community investment director Suzie Acree said. "I feel it's made a real difference toward helping us reach our goal. It's generated a lot of excitement and enthusiasm and awareness of our campaign."

But, there's still about $90,000 left to go.

"That's a staggering number, but we're still going and we're very hopeful that the momentum will keep us going," she added.

Once the campaign reaches 100 percent, campaign chairman Geoff Hulse will parachute from 14,000 feet up.

And with him scheduled to take his leap on Jan. 6, United Way officials are hoping to reach their goal by Jan. 5.

"Geoff is very hopeful we'll be there by then," Ms. Acree said.

Already, the campaign's made good progress since kicking off on Friday, Nov. 24.

Since then, state Rep. Louis Pate has packed pickles at the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. at 60 percent; Goldsboro Mayor Al King has served coffee at Starbucks at 70 percent; and Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders has served doughnuts at Krispy Kreme at 80 percent.

United Way also has helped sponsor several mini-challenges, including the "arrest" of AAR Corp. manager Gregg Miner on Friday. He was held at the United Way office until his employees could come up with the necessary $500 "bond." It took less than an hour.

To report a mini-challenge or for more information on donating, call the United Way office at 735-3591.

Donations can be dropped off at the United Way office on William Street or at one of several locations in Wayne County -- the Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce or RBC Centura Bank on Spence Avenue.

They can also be mailed to the United Way office, 308 N. William St., Goldsboro, N.C. 27530.