National Life Group,Employees of National Life Group donated more than 2,000 books to an inner-city school in Maryland, helping to fuel the principal’s ambitious dream of bringing 10,000 books into his school.‘I believe reading is the foundation for everything,’ says Herman Whaley, principal of the 200-student Capitol Heights Elementary School, located on the Maryland border with Washington, D.C. ‘If you are not a good reader you are going to struggle.’The 2,000 books were presented at a school assembly in December at which students, in a format akin to a television game show, answered book-themed questions.‘You have to celebrate reading and books the way we celebrate our athletes,’ says Whaley. ‘You have to be a cheerleader and celebrate it so it becomes contagious, like you are celebrating a sporting event like the Super Bowl.’The partnership with National Life Group was born in a community group set up by Whaley to brainstorm ideas for nurturing literacy in the area schools.National Life Group is a family of financial service companies that offer life insurance, annuities, and investment* products and services. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest (LSW), a member of National Life Group, is a leading provider of 403(b) and 457(b) tax-deferred retirement plans, primarily in the K-12 school marketplace, including Capital Heights Elementary School.‘This idea to work with National Life to enhance our school library and classroom libraries came to fruition at our community think tank meeting,’ said Whaley. The suggestion came from Rosette Barner-Wiley, a former teacher who is a member of Whaley’s community group and who also sells National Life’s 403(b) retirement products.She contacted Lewis Smith, who is National Life’s director of 403(b) services. Smith, based in Dallas, and Matt DeSantos, who is National Life’s vice president of marketing and business development and is based in Montpelier, organized book drives at both the Montpelier and Dallas campuses of National Life Group.Both Smith and DeSantos were on hand when the 2,000 books were delivered to the school.Smith told the students that books played a critical role in his life and he talked about ‘the places you can go when you read,’ adding, ‘There are certain things people cannot take away from you when you are growing up ‘ and when you are grown up ‘ and that’s what you have up here (pointing to his head), what you learn, where your imagination takes you, what you have right here in your heart.’DeSantos told the students that the best TV is in their minds. ‘It is using your imagination,’ he said. On the importance of reading, he added, ‘It’s about dreams. No one can take it away from you.’The school has launched a Read 25 program to support each student in reading and discussing at least 25 books every school year.Whaley has taken the Read 25 program one step further and initiated an additional goal to get 10,000 books into his school.The 2,000 books were delivered without charge by ABF Freight System, Inc. of Williston, Vt.‘While ABF is a company with a global reach, our people work and live in local communities across the map ‘ communities just like Montpelier and Capital Heights. For this reason it means so much more to know that we can serve the very communities where we live by supporting worthwhile causes such as this one,’ said Russ Aikman, director of marketing and public relations at ABF.###About National Life Group – www.nationallife.com(link is external)National Life Group is a family of financial service companies that offer life insurance, annuities, and investment* products and services. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest (LSW), a member of National Life Group, is a leading provider of 403(b) and 457(b) tax-deferred retirement plans, primarily in the K-12 school marketplace. LSW offers traditional fixed and indexed annuities to educators and employees in more than 7,000 school districts, including several of the largest and smallest school districts in the country.National Life Group® is a trade name of National Life Insurance Company, Montpelier, Vt., Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, Addison, Texas, and their affiliates. Each company of National Life Group is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest is not an authorized insurer in New York and does not conduct insurance business in New York.*Securities and investment advisory services are offered solely by Equity Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, a member of National Life Group, One National Life Drive, Montpelier, Vermont 05604. 800-344-7437.