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‘Little Jo’ takes a break for repairs

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Local business shows support for literacy

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    Scott Walston, owner of Gray Memorial Chapel, talks about why Little Jo is important for the community. ALAINA CLARKE/Staff
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    Books were getting wet and damp inside of Little Jo. ALAINA CLARKE/Staff
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    Little Jo, the purple and gold bus that embodies Jones County, is getting repairs to deliver books to children once again. ALAINA CLARKE/Staff

Little Jo, the purple and gold bus used for bringing books to children in Jones County, has recently seen some water damage, causing books to become damp.

Thanks to Gray Memorial Chapel, Little Jo will be repaired and back out on the road again.

Amy Marlowe, literacy specialist for Jones County Schools, said having a bus full of books is the coolest thing for her and a dream job. She said it would be nice if she could just manage Little Jo full time.

She said Little Jo is getting windowsills and hatch replacements right now thanks to Gray Memorial Chapel. The bus is currently sitting in front of the funeral home, but it hasn’t taken its last breath yet.

“We’re steadily losing books due to the damage being done,” she said. “They are constantly getting damp and having to be removed from the shelves, so we’re trying to keep Little Jo tight so no more water can get in.”

Marlowe said Gray Memorial Chapel has been sponsoring and arranging all the repairs of Little Jo. She said the bus is in their possession right now, and they are doing the repairs all on their own.

“We are sincerely grateful to Gray Memorial Chapel for getting this part of the project complete."

"There’s not enough words to say how much we appreciate what they are doing for Little Jo."

— Amy Marlowe

The literacy specialist said they were unable to send Little Jo out during the summer this year due to COVID-19, but she hopes by November they will be approved to take out Little Jo once the repairs are done.

“Little Jo is a vehicle to get books to kids. It increases access to children in the community to get books,” the literacy specialist said. “We go around Jones County and to the schools so children can continue to learn and read.”

She said right now they are not taking book donations, but they are taking monetary donations for the bus. If people want to help out with repairs by donating or volunteering, email Marlowe at amarlowe@jones.k12.ga.us.

“Little Jo is highly symbolic of our community, with the purple and gold colors on the outside. It is the embodiment of what we are trying to do in this community by getting books to kids. Literacy is a huge part of this community,” she said. 

Marlowe said many people in the community have helped with donations and repairs over time with Little Jo. Kema Clark, Sam Kitchens, the Blue Stockings Society, The Jones County Library, Jones County Family Connection, Rotary Club of Jones County, Chris Weidner and many more have helped with Little Jo.

“Everyone has put a little piece of themselves into Little Jo,” Marlowe said. “The entire design of the bus was student inspired. There was a contest, and it was done by a student. This is Jones County’s bus, not just the school system’s bus.”

The literacy specialist said there will probably be new regulations on the bus due to COVID-19, but she said right now everyone will just have to wait and see what those will be. She said there will probably be new sanitation rules by then.

“The students love Little Jo. I’m sure they can’t wait for it to be back at the schools and around town,” she said. “The elementary students seem to really love it the most and get so excited about getting a book from the bus.”