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Literacy Organization Helps Struggling Children

Fundraising, too, has been a collaborative process. After Kym chatted with Lee Hurley, a friend in the publishing business, the pair came up with the idea of creating a coffee table book of literary quotes and children's portraits. The pictures were solicited from photographers across the state, and the volume, Precious Cargo: A Celebration of Alabama's Children, was sold at stores and church bazaars, through word of mouth and online. "The uncanny thing is how much money we can get without trying that hard once the awareness is there," says Kym.

From the start, her family has been supportive. Kym's husband, Johnny, 49, vice president of a family-owned insurance firm, made regular financial contributions as unexpected costs arose. In CLG's early years, when the Prewitt home was the base of operations and boxes of books filled the garage, son Jack, now 19, got friends to help load them onto trucks. Daughter Addie, 17, started a literacy club at her high school last year that supports some of the same nonprofits as CLG, and Billy, 15, donated his own novels and textbooks.

Within a few years, the organization managed to exceed even Kym's highest hopes. By 2010 CLG had collected enough money to create an endowment for Better Basics, ensuring a steady source of income to purchase texts and other supplies for its reading enrichment programs. The book drive has evolved into an annual event called Birmingham Reads, involving some 700 volunteer readers in more than 600 elementary school classrooms who give away 14,000 books: one to every K-5 student in the city's elementary schools.

Today CLG exists as an endowment that supports Better Basics, where Kym is a board member. "She has a true talent -- and passion -- for service," says Karen Kapp, the group's executive director. "If you need a job done, she's the one to call." Kym considers herself blessed to be the go-to person in the fight against illiteracy. "I can't think of anything more important. Helping children learn to read can change the trajectory of their lives," she says. "What we're giving them is a future."

Originally published in the June 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.