Earlier this summer, Lemont Girl Scout Troop 70144 hoped to make a sizable contribution to classroom libraries in by holding a community book drive.
When organizers announced the event, they said they hoped to collect about 300 books for and schools (kindergarten through fifth grade) by July 1. By the end of the drive, however, the troop had far exceeded expectations—collecting more than 3,300 new and used books.
"We are absolutely blown away by the generosity of this community, especially the girls in the troop who worked so hard on this project," said troop leader Joan Zych. "This exceeded anything we could have imagined."
Zych said the drive was prompted by District 113A's recently adopted reorganizational plan, which closed and shifted many teachers to the Oakwood/River Valley campus for the 2011-2012 school year.
"With close to a dozen teachers changing grade levels, they will need these independent reading books for their in-class libraries at their new grade levels," .
After the drive ended, the Girl Scouts helped sort, mend and stamp each book, making sure they were in good condition and were appropriate for classrooms. A small group of girls and several parent volunteers unloaded the books in the River Valley gym Aug. 18.
Teachers were able to go through the selection and choose books for their classrooms, with priority being given to those teaching new grade levels. One such teacher was Laura Hodge, who was switched from fifth to third grade at River Valley this year.
"I'm so thankful for the Girl Scouts and their amazing contribution," Hodge said. "Not all of the books I had in my classroom library were appropriate for third grade, so this is extremely helpful. They really have no idea how much this means to the teachers."
Each teacher got about 100 books for their personal library, and a large cart was even sent to for the fifth-grade classrooms.
Cathy Cortez, another third grade teacher at River Valley said she was "overwhelmed" when she learned how many books had been collected.
"The thing that's so awesome about these books is that they're all in really good shape," she said. "I'm so impressed with the girls and their willingness to give something back to their school. Their hard work had paid off."
The books from the library at Central School were moved to River Valley, since they are property of District 113A. However, classroom libraries are maintained by teachers, who aim to have an extensive collection of books to meet the needs of students at different reading levels, Cortez said.
"One of the most important aspects of our Balanced Literacy framework is having reading materials for all different levels of students," Cortez said. "The Girl Scouts have collected a wide range of books, which will go a long way in the classroom."