SARASOTA, Dec. 11, 2015 – Staff
members and parent volunteers at Tatum Ridge Elementary School have spearheaded
an effort to send mathematics textbooks that are no longer used in the Sarasota
County School District to schools in African countries. The books are being
donated to a nonprofit organization known as Books for Africa. The local effort
is in need of the donation of services from a shipping company so the books can
be sent to Atlanta, the next step of their journey to Africa.
project began near the end of the 2014-15 school
year, when teachers at Tatum Ridge Elementary were asked to bring their old math
textbooks to the school’s media center to make way for the district’s newly
adopted series of math books and related materials. When they saw the volume of
older materials that was piling up, staff members and parent volunteers suggested
that the old books might find a new, useful life elsewhere.
Renee McQueen, the school’s media aide and
Maggie Kristjanson, a teacher’s aide in the English for Speakers of Other
Languages program, conferred with parent volunteer Karrah Voros. Together they
decided that the three of them could manage collecting the books from district
First, they found and contacted Books for
Africa, an organization that distributes textbooks and other educational
materials to schools in developing nations, where such materials and financial
resources are scarce. Next, they contacted Paco Colon, manager of the Big Jim
Self Storage location on Apex Road, who generously offered to donate as much
storage space as would be needed. With these arrangements in place, project
organizers got the blessing of school and district administrators.
The next step was to contact all of the
district’s elementary school principals to ask if their school would like to
participate. The idea was enthusiastically received; many of the elementary
schools in the district still had the items and wanted to donate them.
Over the summer, a team of volunteers visited
the 14 participating schools with the largest vehicles they had or could
borrow, and picked up any materials that had been collected for the book drive.
Voros even rented a U-Haul truck at her own expense, so they could pick up as many
materials as possible in one day. In addition to the old math items, the team
collected story books teachers no longer needed and withdrawn library
“The volunteers were very dedicated, working
several hours on each run during the hot summer months,” said Kristjanson. “Now,
four 10-by-10-foot storage units are filled with textbooks, workbooks, software,
related math materials and various other items that are awaiting the final step
of the project: transport to the “Books for Africa” warehouse in Atlanta. We’re
hoping that, in this season of giving, a transportation company will donate the
logistics and transportation we need to empty the storage units and send the
books on their way.”
Kristjanson notes that, because Books
for Africa is a charitable organization, any transportation company that can
transport the items to Atlanta pro bono will be able to write it off as a tax-deductible
who would like to donate shipping services to send the books to Atlanta, or a
cash donation to help pay for shipping, is asked to contact Kristjanson at email@example.com or 941-321-3281.
Africa is a simple idea, but its impact is transformative. For us, literacy is
quite simply the bridge from misery to hope.” -Kofi Annan,
former U.N. Secretary-General
Books for Africa (from www.booksforafrica.org)
mission of Books for Africa is to end the book famine in Africa. With your
help, we will help create a culture of literacy and provide the tools of
empowerment to the next generation of parents, teachers, and leaders in Africa.
donated by publishers, schools, libraries, individuals, and organizations are
sorted and packed by volunteers who carefully choose books that are age- and
subject-appropriate. They are shipped in sea containers paid for by
contributions from people like you. It costs about 50 cents to send a book from
the U.S. to Africa.
Africa has shipped more than 34 million books to 49 different countries since
1988. Over the past 12 months we have shipped 2.4 million books, 665 computers
and 200 e-readers containing 1.6 million digital books, as well as five new law
and human rights libraries to 21 African countries. More than $2.3 million was
raised last year to ship the books to the students of Africa.
are on once-empty library shelves, in classrooms in rural schools, and in the
hands of children who have never before held a book. Each book will be read
over and over again. When the books arrive, they go to those who need them
most: children who are hungry to read, hungry to learn, hungry to explore the
world in ways that only books make possible.