Student Book Drives Raise Thousands of Books for Local Elementary Schools

by Katherine Bortz '15 | Nov 19, 2013

Students at DeSales University have been recognized in the past for their determination and eagerness when it comes to helping the community. This semester, two groups of students have gone above and beyond what was asked of them to ensure that children living in at-risk areas whose families may not be able to afford books can develop a love for reading and strive for excellence in an academic setting.

Throughout the month of October, the students in the Children’s Literature course offered by the Education Department worked with Cops ‘n’ Kids, located in Bethlehem, Pa., to organize a book drive for students at Marvine Elementary School. Their initial goal was to raise 1000 books of varying levels, but their professor, Dr. Katrin Blamey, was not prepared for the enthusiastic response of her class.

“The students raised more than 3000 books for the kids. To be honest, I was really amazed,” said Dr. Blamey of her students’ efforts. “It was well beyond my expectations. I’m really proud of this class. They really took care of this project and were creative with networking and advertising for ways to get books for the kids.”

Many of the books collected by the students were donated by parents living in wealthier school districts around the Lehigh Valley. A large portion of the donations came from the surplus of books donated to those that suffered from the effects of Hurricane Sandy last October.

To complete their book drive, the entire class will visit Marvine Elementary and personally deliver the donations to the school on November 20. While there, the DeSales students will personally introduce themselves along with what they aspire to accomplish after college.

“The kids really love to hear where the students come from and what their dreams are,” said Dr. Blamey. “It lets them know that there are places outside of the Lehigh Valley and that they can aspire to be so many things.”

After an introduction, the students will split up in pairs and visit each classroom. While there, they will read out loud to the children and make sure each student receives a book - one to take home with them and a book to keep in the school’s library. Once the event has ended, the DeSales students will have time to reflect on their experiences at Marvine Elementary.

Ultimately, Dr. Blamey hopes that the students who participated in this book drive are able to see how their enthusiasm and willingness to help the community affects the world around them. “My hope to connect the idea that not every child is fortunate enough to have books in their homes,” said Dr. Blamey. “I think [that this project] fits  with the Salesian ideas.”

Though many books have been raised by Dr. Blamey and her class, they are not the only group of students on campus working to collect reading materials for the youth of the Lehigh Valley. The men’s and women’s basketball teams have also been working separately with Cops ‘n Kids to collect books that will be given to students at the Lehigh Valley Academy in Bethlehem on Thursday, January 9.

“We’ve been running book drives with the teams once every other year,” said Coach Fred Richter. “They’ve been hugely successful in the past, so we decided to keep doing them.”

Much like Dr. Blamey’s class, both teams will travel to the school to introduce themselves and read to classes. At the end of the day, each student will receive a book of their own, specifically chosen for their grade and reading level.

“The kids [at the schools] always look forward to seeing the players,” said Coach Richter. “They look up to them, and the kids are able to relate to them more.”

The book drive for the men’s and women’s basketball teams is still in progress and donations are welcomed until the start of Christmas break.

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Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
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