The Ward Family Singers AND Friends will get back together for the first time in five years to present music for a special fund-raiser for Bookcase for Every Child on OCT. 21 at Bob Courtway Middle School in Conway. This is the third-annual Bookcase Literacy Banquet, which has as its goal to provide bookcases and books for the homes of low-income children in the area.

Spokesman for the family group, Bill Ward, said it was the pull of this project which caused the family to sing again. “I had promised my friend Jim Davidson [founder of the bookcase project] we would do it at some point in time, and this was the right time,” Ward added. The family has not sung together since August, 2005, during which time two members passed away – Marketa Evans, the eldest of the Ward children, and Suzy Ward, the pianist for the group.

Playing piano for the re-organized Family & Friends will be Jonathan Sawrie of Greenbrier, long-time pianist and leader of the Melody Boys Quartet. Other instrumentalists will be Betty Ward, keyboard; John Ward, saxophone; Tim Trawick, fiddle and mandolin, Keith Gresham, bass, and Tony Ward and Brian Roach, drums. Singers besides Ward include Joe & Dena Ward, Judy Roach, Truman & Renee Hale and Loweta Turney, all of Conway; Casey Hale of Fort Smith; Tami Ward of Bee Branch; Cherie Haynes of Trophy Club, Texas; Ron Evans and Camille Williams of Texarkana, Texas, and Bobby Chandler of Little Rock.

The meal and program will get underway at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now. On the menu is grilled Petit Jean sausage, spaghetti, kraut, slaw, corn and homemade desserts. Included with the ticket ($15.95 each) will also be a copy of Davidson’s book, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.” Davidson is a newspaper columnist and is published weekly in more than 200 newspapers around the country.

Opening the program will be long-time Bookcase supporter and committee member, and former President of the Arkansas Senate, Retired Sen. Stanley Russ of Conway.

“I feel especially privileged to have the Ward Family come and sing for us,” Davidson said. “They represent what I love in Gospel music. It will be a fun and fulfilling evening for all of us, as we raise funds to furnish bookcases and books for these children.” Davidson said ticket sales are going well, but that folks should get them as soon as possible before the event is sold out. He urged people to also bring gently used children’s books on that night.

The all-volunteer project of building bookcases and filling them with books started several years ago. Each fall, money is raised through the Literacy Banquet, then work begins on building the bookcases. In the spring an awards ceremony takes place where the children will receive their personalized bookcases, complete with a selection of books.

Serving on the Conway Bookcase Project Committee are Cliff Garrison, Mickey Cox, Linda Hammontree, Jerry Glover, Stanley Russ, Dr. Amanda Moore, Dr. Larry Pillow, Linda Linn, Nancy Mitchell, Dr. Tammy Benson, Mary Boyd, Phyliss Fry and Ruth Voss.

For more information on the event or for ordering tickets, call Jim Davidson at 450-7743 or 800-242-2618, or send e-mail to jimdavidson@conwaycorp.net.