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Sacred Heart students donate big to Gazette book drive

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fifth-graders at Sacred Heart Grade School paired up Thursday afternoon to lug 24 boxes of children's books to a waiting newspaper van.

Sacred Heart's 400 students, from preschool to fifth grade, took on The Charleston Gazette's Happy Valentine's Children's Book Drive as a community service project for Catholic Schools Week.

In a week's time, children and staff gathered little board books for babies, whole series of chapter books, beginning readers, mysteries, biographies and science books

"The faculty, as well as the students, want other people to enjoy the books that we have enjoyed," said fifth-grade teacher Janine Olian.

Thousands of books have poured into the Charleston Newspapers lobby from all over the capital-city area, as well as from Putnam County, Morgantown, Lewisburg, Mount Carbon and elsewhere.

"I'm just thrilled about the sharing and generosity of the people," said Gazette Publisher Elizabeth E. Chilton, who created the book drive to help children who do not have enough engaging, stimulating books in their lives. "This will bring so much knowledge and pleasure to children."

Also Thursday, the state's Division of Natural Resources delivered four boxes of Wonderful West Virginia magazines.

Children who have books, magazines and newspapers at home tend to read better and do better in school than children who do not, studies show.

Sacred Heart Principal Terri Maier said the book drive fit in with other service projects. Students also collected toothbrushes and other dental-hygiene supplies that will go to local shelters. Each year, the school participates in Pennies for People, and raised $1,300 to share with charities such as the Sojourners shelter and Hospice.

As children put books in their classroom collection boxes, they made comments such as, "This is a good book," or "I read this whole series and so did my brother," Olian said.

"For these kids who have things, to be able to give something to somebody else is wonderful," Olian said.

Susan Shumate, vice president of the Daily Gazette Co., greeted and thanked students as they loaded the van.

"We're pleased the community is excited about it and people are donating to it," Shumate said. "This is something we can do annually to help children develop a love of reading."

The Happy Valentine's Book Drive continues until Feb. 14.

Books will be distributed to children around the state with the help of book-drive partners Children's Home Society and Read Aloud West Virginia.

Donors may drop off children's books that are clean and in good shape at Charleston Newspapers, 1001 Virginia Street E., seven days a week until Feb. 14. Donations also are being collected at Kanawha County Public Library branches, at the main branch of the Putnam County Public Library and at Children's Home Society locations when those sites are open.

Reach Dawn Miller at dawn@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5117.


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