Thousands of children will get 'First Book'
School union members and other volunteers sort and distribute 22,000 books
On a steamy Friday evening, stacks of books rose up around the William Walker Elementary School's gym.
Many copies of Rick Riordans The Blood of Olympus were piled high along one wall, and editions of Walt Disneys Classic Storybook literally formed a wall of books along another.
By the end of the evening, more than 100 sweaty volunteers had sorted giant boxes crammed with more than 22,000 disorganized books into neat piles, organized by title and age group along the gym walls. The books were ready to be sent home with kids who might not otherwise have a book of their own to read over the long summer break.
The Oregon School Employees Association rallied their own union members and other volunteers at the school for the Beaverton School Districts inaugural book distribution through the First Book nonprofit organization, which aims to get books into the hands of young readers.
The next day, employees from schools in Beaverton and elsewhere, as well as representatives from other agencies that serve low-income children, stopped by the gym to choose free collections of up to 30 books apiece to give away to underprivileged children.
We especially want to get a lot of books into the hands of teachers who work with low-income kids, said Richard Ramirez, OSEAs director of organizing. These books are to go home with needy kids.
Dianna Hess, an executive administrative assistant for the Beaverton School District, said she volunteered with First Book to help share her own love of reading.
You have to be able to step away from life sometimes and these little ones need a way to do it through stories, Hess said. Teaching them to find their imaginations through a book is so important to me.
We have so many kids (in the district) that just dont have that opportunity, she added.
Shannon Omura, a special education program assistant at Beavertons Greenway Elementary School, volunteered her Friday night to sort books and also will take 30 books for special needs children who attend her school.
A lot of schools are going to get a lot of good books, she said.
Have you seen Hannah Montana anywhere? called out Alden Potter, a community volunteer carrying a small stack of books.
Its kind of like a puzzle, said Nicole Wallace, a substitute teacher who specializes in reading.
Becky Steinhardt is a bus driver who plans to give out her 30 books to kids on her daily routes.
Im hoping that theyll enjoy them and learn, and maybe when theyre done reading, pass them on to their friends, she said.
LisaKaren Donnelly wont see a single one of the books she sorted at the Fir Grove Elementary School library, where she is the assistant, and thats totally fine by her because she said its so important for all kids to own books.
That promotes literacy in a different way. Its theirs, she said. Were giving them something to treasure.