NEW CASTLE —
Local teachers received 40,000 free new books yesterday, thanks to an effort coordinated by Westminster College.
The college, First Book-Westminster, and community volunteers distributed the books to area public school educators after winning a national competition to register 300 schools and programs that serve children in need.
Last fall, nearly 40 students affiliated with First Book-Westminster registered 382 teachers and community organizations for the national First Book organization, a national nonprofit that has distributed more than 115 million books to children across the country over the last 21 years. The reward: a truckload of 40,000 new children’s books to distribute locally.
Dr. Eileen Morelli, organizer and First Book-Westminster adviser, called yesterday’s distribution “a phenomenal opportunity for Westminster to promote the hard work of the students, the cooperation of a large number of Westminster faculty and staff, and Westminster’s cooperative effort within the larger community groups serving Lawrence and Mercer counties.”
“The importance of this award is significant,” she continued, “as we are the only First Book college organization to receive this award. She explained that only eight other truckloads were awarded in the country, each of which went to larger metropolitan areas.
The new books – for newborns to 18-year-olds – from Hyperion Press and Disney Publishing arrived on Westminster’s campus Monday. Book distribution for registered teachers took place between 3 and 8 p.m. yesterday in the lobby of Orr Auditorium on Westminster’s campus. Books were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
More than 380 local teachers were registered to receive 100 books each. Their districts include Ellwood City, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, New Castle, Shenango, Union and Wilmington in Lawrence County, and Farrell, George Junior Republic, Hermitage, Lakeview, Mercer, Sharon, and Sharpsville in Mercer County, as well as teachers from West Mifflin and Campbell (Ohio) school districts.
Several community groups serving children of low-income families also received free books.
Westminster has been involved in raising money and distributing books to local students through First Book annually since 2005. Yesterday’s outreach, though, was by far the biggest yet for the college.
“I hope that two things will come out of this,” Morelli said. “One, that it will inspire children, that one of those free books might prompt one of them might think, ‘Wow, I can do more than I ever thought I could do.’
“I also hope that it would show our education students that you can move mountains — or in this case, a truckload of books — with some determination and teamwork.”
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