GVSU students collect books for local children

By Maddie Forshee | 3/27/16 9:46pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Read n' Give Lincoln Elementary School in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, holds a school-wide book drive throughout the month of March. The school collected a total of 3,191 books.

by Read n' Give / Grand Valley Lanthorn

March is national reading month, and though the month is almost over, the Grand Valley State University community can still get involved with the celebration by taking part in the Read n' Give book drive initiative.

Started over nine years ago through Crowe Horwath, an accounting firm, and nonprofit The LEAGUE Michigan, the Read n' Give book drive is a statewide effort that aims to collect old books from community members, then partner up with nonprofit organizations to distribute the books to local schools.

GVSU student Karl Lubinski is responsible for bringing the effort to GVSU's campus as his honors senior project for the Frederik Meijer Honors College.

"I love the idea of raising books for at-risk kids," Lubinski said. "I viewed Grand Valley as a potential resource to raise books and raise money. I saw it was an opportunity to give back to Grand Valley."

Lubinski brought the book drive to campus in early March and plans on keeping the drive going until the third week of April. There are three drop-off locations: the faculty office areas in each of the Honors College, the College of Education and the Seidman College of Business buildings.

Thus far, Lubinski estimates that he's collected a few hundred books. In the Grand Rapids area, Lubinski said there is an estimated need for around 3,000 books.

Megan Lendman, a GVSU alumna and service learning coordinator for AmeriCorps in Grand Rapids, is also hosting a Read n' Give book drive to raise books in downtown Grand Rapids.

"Last year, this campaign raised and distributed over 10,000 books throughout Grand Rapids," she said.

After receiving and counting the books, they will be sorted by age group. Lubinski is a member of the Kids in Motion student organization, an organization that works with underprivileged kids to get them physically active. The student organization will get together to make bookmarks for the kids and will host a book fair at local schools to bring a portion of the books directly to the kids.

The rest of the books will be donated to family recipients of the Salvation Army, to resettled students through United Way Schools of Hope, to the Boys and Girls Club and to students who are part of the IMPACT program.

Lendman said she also plans on working with nonprofit community organizations like the West Michigan Refugee Center and the Kent County Department of Human Services, as well as hosting charity events at local breweries, where a portion of people's bills will benefit the cause.

"All of these organizations and schools are within the downtown area, so the idea is to encourage the people of Grand Rapids to pay attention to the literacy competency of our youth and have an active role in it," she said. "People in Grand Rapids really like to buy beers for a cause."

Lubinski said that though the initiative is still ongoing, he's optimistic about raising plenty of books for local kids.

"A lot of us have books sitting on our shelves that we haven't touched in 10, 15 years," he said. "It's a pretty easy task to bring in old books that you're not going to be using that can be the gateway to future success for kids and someone's new favorite book."

Lendman agreed and encouraged anyone to get involved in any way they can.

"Books that collect dust on our bookshelves are much more useful if they are passed around," she said. "By giving and receiving books, we are cycling information in a way that only humans are capable of."

Lendman is hosting a book drive and fundraising event at Harmony Hall on March 28. $1 of every beer sold will be collected to purchase books for the initiative.

For students who can't partake in that event, there are drop-off locations on GVSU's Allendale Campus at the Frederik Meijer Honors College in the faculty office suite. On GVSU's Pew Campus, drop-off locations can be found on the second floor of the Seidman College of Business and in the faculty office suite of the College of Education. 

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