By Jay Chilton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — This was Enya Neal’s first year to participate in the Summer Reading Program at the Norman Public Library, but it was a profitable one.
In her mother’s words, “Reading pays.” After reading 60 books with her family, Neal was selected as the winner of the child category in the Reading Makes Cent$ Sweepstakes, receiving an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan worth $2,529.
Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller presented the 3-year-old Norman resident, along with her mother, Tahereh Ryland-Neal, a check for the savings plan Monday in the children’s section of the Norman Public Library before providing cupcakes and juice drinks for all the young people gathered to witness the award.
“Summer is an important time to make sure children continue to learn,” Miller said. “Encouraging children to read over the summer months not only helps drive them to the library, but it also keeps developing their interests. My hope is this sweepstakes helped build their knowledge of the world around them in preparation for future education and career endeavors.”
Miller also presented a check on Monday to Norman Public Library Manager Leslie Tabor for $1,000. Tabor said the funds will be used to promote the 2014 Summer Reading Programs, as the 2013 program had record attendance, and to help offer community events.
The goal of the sweepstakes is not only to remind families of the importance of saving for college now but also to keep students reading during the summer months.
Ryland-Neal entered Enya and her brother, London, into the sweepstakes as a part of their participation in the Summer Reading Program at the Norman Public Library and kept them active in the program through the summer months.
“We have made plans for both of our children to attend college,” Ryland-Neal said. “They don’t have a choice. The money is a huge, huge step toward our goal for Enya to attend college. As a matter of fact, we talk about college so much because my husband and I are both in college at OU.”
Apparently, Enya is ready to go to college, too.
“When we told Enya she was a winner for the Oklahoma College Savings Plan, she put on her backpack and told us, ‘I’m going to college,’ I informed her that after pre-K comes college.”
In five years, the sweepstakes has awarded more than $25,000 to Oklahoma children and roughly $10,000 to state libraries. This year’s sweepstakes had more than 3,700 entrants from across the state and no state funds were used.
The 10,000 Reasons to Save Sweepstakes is accepting submissions until 11:59 p.m. Nov. 15.
Submissions may be made at ok4saving.org, and one winner will be selected at random to receive an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan worth $10,529 and their school also will win $10,529 in cash.