Central Middle School students are promoting literacy among local families by partnering with eight charitable organizations.

The 100 eighth-grade students raised $1,660 to provide about 400 books to Advocates for Children, Horizon House, Love Chapel, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and other organizations, said Trisha Burns, a Central math teacher. The books are given to families served by the organizations, Burns said.

Money was raised after students called businesses, held fundraisers at school and asked their families for donations, Burns said. The eighth-graders were divided into different groups and assigned a particular charity, she added.

Burns collaborated with English teacher Angela Spurgeon on the project, which featured informational pamphlets about the importance of reading included in each book to help parents promote literacy in their homes.

The books, selected by students, were provided by Usborne Books and More, an online book distributor that matched half of the amount raised. The books were targeted to individuals in kindergarten to sixth grade, Burns said.

The students’ efforts to promote reading will have a lasting impact in the area, according to Spurgeon.

Eighth-grade student Josh Schrader said his group, which was donating books to Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, called local businesses to raise money and was able to secure $150, which allowed them to buy 10 books.The remainder of the money was distributed to other classmates’ groups that weren’t able to raise enough funds, Schrader said.

The books also included hand-written notes from students, he said.

Eighth-graders Lexie Graham, who was a part of Schrader’s group, said she enjoyed being able to give back to others.

“Basically the feeling of knowing that little kids that wouldn’t get to read are going to learn to read at a younger age,” Graham said.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com