Fifth-grader Heartley Twiggs loves to read fiction books and thinks kids are better off when they read books they enjoy.
“It just helps you build a better vocabulary and a better imagination,” Heartley said.
Since February, Heartley and the other student council members at Mount Vernon Exploratory School have been encouraging their classmates to donate books to the Historic Clermont DIP Library so other children will be able to find good books, too.
To pique their classmates interest in the project, council members created commercials for the morning announcements and made fliers to hang around the school urging students to sort through their book collections at home and pick a few other children might like to read.
Third-grader James Bennett said one of the first things he did to help the book drive was to go on the morning announcements with a friend.
James said he was glad his classmates wanted to help and brought their old books to school to donate. He said he enjoyed the experience and hopes his class will elect him to represent them again next year so he can participate in more projects.
“I think it was a good experience, because a lot of kids don’t have the opportunity to read,” James said.
The students set a goal of collecting 700 books — one from each student — but they exceeded their goal. By the end of the year, the students had collected 800 books for children of all ages.
The 800 books filled 10 boxes, which the students hand-delivered last week.
“It felt very good to do that,” Heartley said. “I knew they didn’t have very many books. But they didn’t have a lot of children books, I realized that we helped out a lot.”
Pam Thompson, third-grade student council sponsor, said the children came to school with bags of books to donate. Some teachers even used the drive as an opportunity to clear out their bookshelves, making way for new books next year.
Thompson said she felt very proud of her students for giving back and helping other children.
Fifth-grade student council sponsor Funmi Oke said the children learned a valuable life lesson through the book drive and were able to see the “worth of what they were doing.”
Giving the students an education isn’t just about teaching them math and science, she said.
“We want to educate the children, not just in education but in being a good citizen,” Oke said. “We talk about being a healthy person, but it’s not just in looking after your health but the community as well.”
Because of the students’ good citizenship, Clermont Mayor James Nix dropped by the school to personally thank the children for their efforts.
Oke said the mayor’s visit made a huge impression on the students.
“Just the smile on his face made our kids smile,” Oke said. “The children in this day and age who want that instant gratification, that was an instant, ‘Yep, you’ve done a good job.’ They could see that they made a difference.”