Last month Hurricane Irma created a path of destruction through Florida and Georgia. One of the areas hit hardest was Eden Park Elementary School in Immokalee, Florida. Now a group of Thomas University students and faculty are organizing a Scholastic Book Fair that will provide books to replace those at the school damaged by Hurricane Irma.
The Scholastic Book Fair will be held 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, through Thursday, Nov. 2, in the TU Library on the Forbes Campus. For each book purchased at the fair, a voucher will be used for the purchase of a book for a child at Eden Park Elementary School. The public is welcome to attend.
According to federal statistics, Eden Park Elementary serves a low-income neighborhood of mostly migrant workers in Collier County. Of 710 students enrolled, 97.3 percent qualify for free lunches as part of the National School Lunch Program. (For a child to qualify for free lunches, his/her family’s annual income must be less than $15,171.) Hurricane Irma caused a great deal of damage in the area.
“Our Scholastic book fair is a reading event that provides the books kids want to read,” said Dr. Jennifer Phillips, assistant professor of education and one of the book fair organizers. ”It’s a wonderful selection of engaging and affordable books for every reading level. Reading for pleasure inside and outside of school has real and long-lasting benefits. It unlocks the power of information and imagination. Reading helps children discover who they are.”
In addition to the book fair in the TU Library, purchases may also be made through the Scholastic website at www.scholastic.com/bf/thomasuniversity.
Coordinating the book fair are members of the TU chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society, students in TU’s Peace Leadership Class, the TU Library, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cairo and Thomasville.
With funds from the TU Pre-College Programs’ GEAR UP project, each of the students at the Boys and Girls Clubs will purchase two books — one to keep and one for a student at Eden Park Elementary School. Also as part of the GEAR UP project, Peace Leadership Class students will become pen pals and communicate weekly with Boys and Girls Club members as well as students at Eden Park Elementary School. Books will be used as a common thread during these communications in an effort to develop cultural communication and a deep understanding among participants.
In March 2018 the Peace Leadership Class students and the Boys and Girls Club students will visit their pen pals and reading buddies at Eden Park Elementary. The project will be presented to a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate at the Peace Jam Conference at Florida State University in April 2018.