Source: Sherman Publications

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By the book: 2,935 times

by Samantha Shelley

June 01, 2011

From left Adam Green hands GMS teacher Dona DeRossett a box of books set for delivering with the help form Sydnie Wiederman, Alex Bader (kneeling), and Kyle Gavulic. Photo by Patrick McAbee.
If Dona DeRossett had a dollar for every book recently donated at her school, she'd be wealthy.

DeRossett, a Goodrich Middle School English teacher, had a plan to spread knowledge and reading outside the classroom at the same time utilize the school-wide community service project to end that year's character education program. This year, DeRossett contacted Bee Fleetwood, the head of the Reading for Life program in Flint which promotes reading to young students and collects books for underprivileged children.

"I had heard about her program and thought it would be a wonderful end of the year service project for the school," said DeRossett.

The first goal set for GMS was to collect around 500 new or gently used books for the Durant Tuuri Mott Elementary school in northern Flint. The pre-kindergarten through sixth grade school is full of students who enjoy reading but often don't have the resources to do so.

"We thought if each of our students brought in just one book we could have about 500 to give to the school," said DeRossett.

Little did she know that students would be bringing in backpacks and duffle bags full of books. By the end of the week, the GMS students and staff had collected 2,935 books.. "We wanted each student to have just one book that they could call their own, but now we could possibly be giving each student two or three books," she said.

The books were dropped off at Durant Tuuri Mott by volunteering GMS staff and student council members on June 1. At the drop off, the students and staff had a chance to meet Fleetwood, the Durant Tuuri Mott principal and a handful of students who will be receiving their donated books.

Since the drive was such a success, DeRossett foresees GMS holding another in the future.

"We try to do something different each year for our end of the year community service project, so we will probably wait a few years. But we will definitely do this again," she said.

The students responded so well to giving back to those that are less fortunate and did not have another incentive to keep donating. DeRossett didn't want this to become a competition, rather the focus to be on the "good feeling that comes with helping someone less fortunate than yourself".

"When you place a book in a childs hands, it could open all kinds of doors to that child. It can create such a spark and excitement for reading," DeRossett said.