Reading Council donates 6,000 books

Published 10:23 pm Friday, January 9, 2009

Joshua Bush may be only a fifth-grader, but he’s put together a powerful lesson on the importance of reading.

“You learn more,” he said.

Wanting to help other children learn more in the city, Bush donated 41 books to the Suffolk Reading Council’s book drive “Books Across Suffolk” held in December.

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It was enough books to make Bush the top donor from Elephant’s Fork Elementary School, and to help make his class (Mr. Huffs’ fifth grade class) the overall top donor from the school, as well.

Students and classes throughout the city took part in the book drive, which started as a community service project for the Suffolk Reading Council. The council is a professional organization aimed at building literacy in Suffolk’s children by advocating education and community based programs.

“Community service is one of the areas we target when we’re setting the goals at the beginning of the year,” said Conjo Whitney, president of the council. She added that the council had not conducted a book drive during the past few years, so members felt it would be a good project to take on.

Boxes were placed in each of the schools in the city, and Chick-Fil-A helped sponsor the drive by giving gift certificates to the individual students who brought in the most books and the class that brought the most books. This included Bush, who by himself was responsible for 5 percent of Elephant’s Fork’s total donation.

The drive began Dec. 1 and went through Dec. 18, which was the last day of school before the holiday break.

In that time, the drive brought in approximately 6,000 books to be donated to the Suffolk Literacy Council. That group offers one-on-one tutoring for illiterate adults and holds an annual summer reading program for children to encourage reading throughout the year.

“We did not really know what to expect,” Whitney said. “But we were not expecting this kind of turnout. We have collected a substantial number of books.”

Gary Williams, president of the Suffolk Literacy Council, said receiving this many books means that the council’s summer program would be able to reach even more community children.

“I’ll just have to work a little harder, I guess,” he joked.