A group of about 30 fifth-graders from the Elms Elementary School collected the books as a new student club, “Tiger Paws for a Cause,” got off the ground.
Teacher Donna Donner said the effort took wing after she mentioned that she knew a teacher at the Pine Point Elementary School on a Native American reservation in Ponsford, Minn., who had lamented about a lack of books for her pupils.
Donner said she connected with her fellow educator through a social media group made up of educators from around the country.
“We are so rich in books and our love for books at Elms,” Donner said. “When I mentioned that the school in Minnesota did not have as much as we did, the kids said they could not imagine not having books readily available.”
After that, it wasn’t long before books began arriving at Elms.
“The kids started bringing boxes and boxes of books to my room,” Donner said. “Our community completely came together and everybody is so happy to send out the books.”
Principal Michael Burgos said, “This event is a wonderful example of Elms’ commitment and the teachers’ and students’ commitment to giving back to the greater good. This project started as something small … and it gelled into something a lot bigger. It’s about giving back.”
Parent Amalia Ulrey said she was proud of the students and more than happy to support the book drive in any way possible.
“The kids are really what made us excited and motivated to get this done,” Ulrey said. “For me, it was an amazing experience to see the kids reach out and think of someone other than themselves.”
A donation from a parent will cover the cost of shipping the books to Minnesota.
Donner has remained in contact with her counterpart at Pine Point, although she has not told her fellow teacher exactly how the book drive at Elms turned out.
“[Pine Point] has no idea this is coming to them. They think they are getting a box of books,” Donner said. “I kind of want to tell her they need to build a bigger shelf.”
“If they become rich in books, we hope they would do the same thing for another school,” the teacher said.
Donner said the students will come up with another charitable cause in January. She said she knows the Elms pupils will leave a legacy at the school.
“This isn’t surprising at all because I just think these kids have never been given the opportunity,” she said. “When you open the door, let them walk through it and give them a little freedom in their thinking … that is how they get things done.”