Getting booked for books: Learning Center hosts 'Jail and Bail' fundraiser

Friday, October 21, 2016
Carroll County Sheriff's Office Maj. George Fry slams the door shut on Charles Williams, who was 'arrested' Thursday on behalf of the Learning Center of North Arkansas. Frye let Williams out of the makeshift hoosegow so he could raise his bail for the center. (Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News)

Reading may not be a crime, but a few locals served time for it this Thursday.

The Learning Center of North Arkansas partnered with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office for a "Jail and Bail" fundraiser to raise money for the center's library. CCSO Chief Deputy Maj. George Frye assisted the center, arresting members of the community and driving them to the Learning Center's Berryville location.

Karla Gray, executive director, said the people would be placed in a specially designed cell in front of the Learning Center, and they would have to buy themselves out of jail.

She said a trip to the Learning Center jail is nicer than most, however.

"Our jailbirds get a complimentary picture and cookie to take home with them," Gray said, "as well as a cup of coffee and a hot dog if they'd like one."

Judy Williams, site director of the Learning Center in Green Forest, said the "Jail and Bail" did its best to replicate an authentic jail experience for the prisoners.

"When they get arrested, they get handcuffed and have a prison shirt," she said. "They have to pose behind bars in their handcuffs for their mug shot."

Gray said the fundraiser was all about providing new books for the libraries at the Berryville, Green Forest and Holiday Island campuses.

"We're raising money to buy books. We're having our book fair this week, so we thought it would be a great time for the community to come see our library and see what we're doing with the kids," she said. "It's just going to be a good time."

Having the fundraiser during the book fair allows the Learning Center to take the money straight to the book fair and buy new books for the kids, Gray said, giving the children some input into which books are purchased.

"We are such advocates of reading. Reading is brain food," she said. "We have a certified librarian. We're proud of that and proud of her. This is a great fundraiser for us."

Gray continued, "It's a way to get the community involved and see what the Learning Center does. They can come in, and we'll take them on a tour of our facilities and show them our beautiful building."

She said the Learning Center also was getting ready for its Fall Festival, which was held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday night.

"The Fall Festival is a time when the kids can come in, play games, ride trains and eat hot dogs," Gray said. "It's a big night for us."

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