Project Lorax looks to provide copies of Dr. Seuss book to children

Published 9:26 pm Monday, March 6, 2017

Citizens maneuvering through Historic Downtown Elizabethton Saturday morning were treated to a special guest visit from Dr. Seuss lore.
The Lorax was out roaming the shops to help promote Project Lorax, two days removed from the author’s birthday, an initiative underway by the Northeast Tennessee Democrat Resource Center to have Dr. Seuss’ book “The Lorax” available to local second-grade students by Earth Day — Saturday, April 22.
“We decided we’d shoot for the Johnson City schools early on,” Murphey Johnson, with Project Lorax, said. “We contacted them and got their approval to do this. With the significant donation we received this past week, and all of our previous donations, we’re at a level now that we have plenty of money for all the Johnson City schools. Everything we raise for the rest of the month means we can branch out to other schools.”
Branching out was in full abundance over the weekend. While the Lorax visited different shops and took time to wave and citizens pose for photos, a special storytelling event was held inside the Crow’s Nest with Jerry Muelver, with the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild, providing an interactive and entertaining read of the book to attendees.
Wanting a presence in Elizabethton came from a special request from one young attendee during a previous storytelling event, Johnson said.
“We had a specific request from a second-grader in Elizabethton at one of our events to branch out to schools in Elizabethton if we can,” he added. “Along with that, if possible, we’d also like to branch out for all of the Washington County schools as well.”
Johnson projected that the cost to have copies of “The Lorax” available to second graders in the county would cost roughly around $5,000 which would be gathered from potential donors.
Throughout Dr. Seuss lore, “The Lorax” proves to be a popular read among children and adults alike while addressing environmental stewardship and conservation. The message of the book, and Project Lorax, gave William Block and his wife the perfect opportunity to honor their daughter, Ashley — an active conservationist who recently passed away — by giving a donation to allow Project Lorax to hit its goal for Johnson City Schools.
“My wife and I saw the story in a copy of the Johnson City Press and thought it could be the perfect way to honor our daughter,” Block told the Elizabethton Star Monday.
The message of the book was very important to Ashley, whom the family fondly thought of as their own Lorax.
Ashley graduated summa cum laude from Sewanee in 2013 with an honors degree in Ecology and Biodiversity. Following graduation, Ashley went on to work at Walt Disney World in conservation and management, spreading the word to help the younger generation learn more about helping the environment.
Block added the family was more than willing to contribute to the cause and thank the DRC for the project, especially with the impact it can make to the next generation.
“This is their first exposure to the book,” he said about Project Lorax’s goal of providing the book to second graders. “It’ll be their own copy they can hang on to and learn about an ongoing problem going on to this day.”
Johnson added he appreciated the support Saturday from the public in Elizabethton.
“It’s been great,” he said about the time in downtown. “Historic Downtown Elizabethton is a wonderful place to visit. Everyone has been friendly, there are many great shops to visit, and we appreciate all the support from everyone today.”
Visit for more information on the initiative and how to get involved. Donations for the books would need to be received no later than March 31.

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