Central students donate books to local charities

Students from Central Middle School took on holiday spirit by raising money to buy books to share with youngsters throughout Columbus.

With the help of two teachers, 105 eighth-graders combined mathematics, English and gift giving to provide new books for local charities to distribute.

The idea came from mathematics teacher Trisha Burns and English teacher Angela Spurgeon when they sought out a way to include helping the community in their daily lessons. That was when they stumbled on a free read-a-thon program by Usborne and More called “Reach For the Stars!”

The teachers renamed the project “Literacy 4 Life” after changing it to include math and English concepts.

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After each student read an extra 300 minutes within two weeks, the students — divided into groups — decided which charity or organization they wanted to help.

They then made a wish list for books and came up with a total cost for their goal. Students then interpreted graphs and presented their findings and began collecting pledges to use to purchase books.

“They all chose different ways to raise the money. Some groups asked family and friends, some walked around their neighborhoods or stores with their parents, some groups called businesses to ask for donations, and a couple of groups wanted to make a GoFundMe page,” Burns said.

One student found that collecting money was his favorite part of the project.

“I liked that I was able to call insurance companies and have them donate money. When they were willing to donate, I felt great inside,” Olin Kiser said.

Their efforts raised a total of $1,375, the teachers said. But the students were able to choose more than $2,000 in books thanks to Usborne’s program in which the company gives back half of the raised money in the form of free books.

Mathematics made another appearance in the project as students calculated the surface area for all of the books in order to gift wrap them. They included a gift inside each book in the form of an informational bookmark, flier or brochure with statistics related to the importance of reading.

The seven charities receiving books this week are: Love Chapel, Lincoln Central Neighborhood Family Center, Foundation for Youth, Book Buddies, Family School Partners, Horizon House and Turning Point.

Jennifer Utterback said she would recommend this project to other grades and schools.

“I would (recommend it) because it is good for people to raise money to buy books to give to local charities so children who are underprivileged would get the opportunity to read,” she said.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.