Books 4 Kids With an Amber Glow
By: John Parsons
Wanna have some fun? Spend a couple of hours with elementary students. Pass out books to children at one of our adopted Common Ground elementary schools as a part of the “Books 4 Kids” program. Don Jenkinson and I had that pleasure a couple of weeks ago at Avondale Elementary. It was not their first experience but as always very rewarding. Amber Bradly of Santa Sophia Catholic Church has shepherded this activity since its inception in 2003. At that time three schools were participating in Common Ground. Amber has for these many years been a real trooper. Her efforts both administrative and physical (try lifting a large box of books) have been extraordinary.
Common Ground has grown from the original three schools to six at the present – approximately 3400 students. Every year each kindergartner receives 3 books to start their home libraries and they will receive 2 books each year thereafter through the 6th grade. The students participate in a “book day” each year where they come to a central location at the school – class by class – and select 2 books from the many, laid out by volunteers on tables for their viewing. Before returning to their classrooms the books are stamped with a Common Ground stamp by volunteers (in this case Don and Chuck) and words of praise and encouragement are exchanged. The children will sign their names in the stamped area identifying the reading material as their very own. The importance of reading is stressed and every life that is touched is so important.
Since the inception of Books 4 Kids over 50,000 books have found their way into eager hands. Many of these children have never had a book to call their own. Approximately 7,000 books will be handed out this year alone. These are a combination of new and tenderly used volumes collected from many sources such as libraries (both public and school), The San Diego Book Project, membership of our three churches, Santa Sophia Catholic Church, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church and Foothills (families with young children are an important source) and generous donors who make possible the acquisition of new books.
Common Ground has many facets and services it renders to our adopted schools. Books 4 Kids is just one of the avenues to give children the tools they need to succeed in their education. If this tickles your fancy and volunteering sounds interesting you can help make a real difference, be it in a classroom (of great importance) or in other Common Ground projects. Don and I want to share the fun! Please contact John Parsons who is the Common Ground Chair, 619-469-7169.