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9-year-old wins money toward college
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McAllister Elementary School student Katey Atkins holds the ceremonial check for winning $1,529 in the Path2College 529 Plan summer reading program sweepstakes. - photo by Photo by Paul Floecker

The luck of the draw gave 9-year-old Katey Atkins money toward her college education.

Katey, a student at McAllister Elementary School, received $1,529 for her college savings Tuesday as one of four regional winners in the summer reading program sweepstakes sponsored by Georgia’s Path2College 529 Plan.

“I’m just really thankful that she could get this opportunity,” said Katey’s mother, Brooke Atkins. “We have three kids, and all three hopefully will get to go to college, so this will be a great help in that.”

The sweepstakes is a partnership between the Path2College 529 Plan and the Georgia Public Library Service to encourage students to read during the summer and remind families about the importance of saving for college. Any child participating in a summer reading program in Georgia is eligible to enter the drawing.

Katey read books she checked out from the Richmond Hill Public Library. By virtue of her winning one of the regional awards, the library received $529.

“I think it speaks to the ability of the libraries in our state to provide new opportunities to patrons and the willingness of families to invest time and effort in their children’s futures,” said Richmond Hill Public Library manager Kate Barker. “Everyone on the library staff is happy for Katelyn and her family and grateful that her win also provided the library with a check for $529.”

Katey was a bit shy about being interviewed, but said she was “excited” to receive the money toward college. She said her favorite types of books to read are “fiction and fantasy and stuff like that.”

At 9 years old, Katey doesn’t yet know where she will attend college or what she will study. Of course, at her age, that’s subject to change by the day.

“She has talked about being a teacher, and then this weekend we went to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and she wanted to work there after that,” her mom said with a laugh.

Katey is the second winner from Richmond Hill in the six years of the summer reading program sweepstakes. In 2012, Richmond Hill High School student Savannah Beecher won the statewide grand prize of $5,529.

The funds the Richmond Hill Public Library received from Beecher’s award were put toward resources to help prepare students for college, such as books about available scholarships and books on taking the SAT or ACT, according to Barker. The library has not yet decided how to use the money from Katey’s award.

However, every bit of funding helps, Barker said, especially as library leaders look to build a larger facility in Richmond Hill.

“We certainly need it in this community at the rate of growth we’ve had,” she said. “We want it to be what the community wants and needs. Rather than just building a larger building and putting the same things in it, we want to make sure it’s really suited to our community.”

Path2College 529 is the state-sponsored plan to help families save for college. A family can receive a deduction on their state income tax of up to $2,000 per year per child for putting money into a 529 savings account.

The funds in the account accrue tax-free, according to Path2College 529 Plan Executive Director Mitch Seabaugh. The money can be used for tuition, fees, books or room and board, he said.

“It is an awesome opportunity to be a part of contributing to a young one’s life,” Seabaugh said, “not knowing exactly what road they’re going to take, but helping to contribute to their success and contribute to their opportunity of saving for college.”

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