To kick off the Carolina Panthers’ 25th anniversary, the team hosted a free book fair across 25 communities in North and South Carolina on “Keep Pounding Day,” May 1.

With volunteer assistance from the USO of North Carolina, students at Devers Elementary School were able to benefit from the service project. According to a Panthers’ media release, David Tepper, owner of the Carolina Panthers, said May 1 was selected for the inaugural effort because the number 51 was the jersey of former Panthers player Sam Mills.

“We are looking forward to a day of service for our region’s communities as a sincere thank you for the amazing support we receive from Panthers fans across North and South Carolina,” Tepper said.

Devers students who attended the book fair each received about $24 to purchase books from their home library during the event in the school’s media center.

Renee Lane, USO of North Carolina Sandhills area director, said she doesn’t know of a time when the Panthers have done an outreach of this large scale on a single day. Additionally, she said the Keep Pounding Day partnership with the USO of North Carolina is vital to the Bragg community.

“It’s extremely important to our Fort Bragg military children because the Panthers were able to engage with (the kids) with scholastic books,” Lane said. “That itself is a huge gift and a huge win for students because they were able to select four to five different books to save and read over the summer to keep up with their reading and comprehension skills.”

The children’s book fair is a result of a long-standing relationship between the installation, the USO and the Panthers, Lane said.

“Having the Keep Pounding Day was such a wonderful benefit and outcome of that 25th-anniversary project,” she said.