Come Sept. 10, elementary school kids returning to school in Liverpool will find an extra book in their hands.
That’s thanks to the efforts of Brenda Voll of Clay and her son, Liverpool High School junior Chris, and their Read It Forward book drive. The goal of the drive is to collect enough books to give one to every one of the roughly 3,700 elementary school students in the district.
“We had all of these old books, and we were going to just have a yard sale to get rid of them,” Brenda Voll said. “But then we were talking, and we said, ‘There are so many books here. We don’t want to sell them, so let’s donate them.'”
But who should be the recipient of the books?
“I have three boys, and they all received a great education from Liverpool,” Voll said. “We thought it would be great to give back to the district and donate them to the elementary schools.”
But they wanted to add to their total, so they decided to do a larger book drive. Voll talked to Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education Ellen Kuno and LHS Executive Principal Greg Avellino.
“They loved the idea,” she said. “We got the go-ahead to do this book drive, and it kind of grew from there.”
Around Memorial Day, the Volls conducted a book drive at the high school with the help of three other parents and three other high school students. They collected 820 usable books. Twenty went to the Readers from Birth program, and the rest were divided between four of the district’s elementary schools.
It could have ended there, but Chris decided he wanted to keep it going.
“He said, ‘If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right,'” Brenda Voll said. “So we decided we wanted to collect enough books to get one into every elementary student’s hands.”
So far, the drive has netted about 4,000 books. Some came from “lots and lots of garage sales,” Voll said, though others were donated by Dave Favolo of Books4Less on Route 57, who donated about 200 books, and Jim at the Liverpool Elks. Still others were donated by other members of the community interested in promoting literacy among young children. The books are sorted and organized by high school students, who earn community service credit for taking part.
Voll said she hopes to continue the drive year-round and do a book giveaway twice a year, once when school starts and again for summer reading.
“We want to cultivate reading in our younger kids, and we want the older kids to model that,” she said. “This seems like the perfect way to do that.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.