The books were received by the Assistance League of Reno Sparks from the Molina Foundation, which is based in Southern California and dedicated to promoting education, literacy and math proficiency. The 7,911 books have a $123,000 value, which Assistance League co-chair Cheryl Clark said is just a start to helping underprivileged schools in Washoe County.
“For the Assistance League, we do things for the community,” Clark said. “We also wanted to do something for the schools.”
This is the second year the Assistance League applied for and received books from the Molina Foundation. In 2010, Clark said the nonprofit organization was given about 4,000 books to distribute to schools in need. The Assistance League will be giving this year’s books to schools already part of the Links to Learning Program, including Bailey Charter, Desert Heights, Dodson, Donner Springs, Dunn, Hidden Valley, Hunter Lake, Johnson, Juniper, Lemmon Valley, Mount Rose, Palmer, Picollo, Stead and Alice Smith and Silver Lake elementary schools.
The Links to Learning program provides academic support to teachers at schools most in need and provides grants for materials that otherwise would be out-of-pocket expenses for school staff. This year, the Assistance League gave $23,600 to 78 projects that involved 141 educators.
“Our goal is to distribute these books to the schools that are eligible for Link to Learning,” Clark said, explaining those schools usually qualify for Title 1 funds. “We also choose the schools that have after-school reading programs.
“The whole goal is to get these books to children who might not otherwise have access to them,” Clark added. “This year we also decided to give books to the Kids Kottage. They are just wonderful children’s books.”
Clark said the books’ target audiences range from kindergartners to older children.
“Bailey Charter School doesn’t have a library,” Clark said. “They are just thrilled. They’re going to get about 500 books (Friday), which is a great start.”
In order to distribute the 7,911 books, about 70 volunteers, including students from Launie Gardner’s government class at Truckee Meadows Community College High School and volunteers from the Assistance League, sorted and packed the books to be brought to the schools.
Assistance League volunteer Janice Emerson helped put in bookplates and sort books Friday morning. She said she enjoys volunteering with the nonprofit organization because it helps to the community.
“I moved here when I retired,” Emerson said, adding she is from Pleasanton, Calif. “One of my friends from church suggested I check out the Assistance League, that was four years ago.
“The people are so nice and you feel like you’re doing something for the community,” Emerson added. “It helps the school so much, they need a lot of help. Some don’t have the money to buy books. It lifts the community, especially in these though economic times. Volunteering helps people.”
In addition to Links to Learning, Assistance League of Reno Sparks President Sue Martin said the nonprofit also provides support to the community through such programs as Operation School Belt, the Kids on the Block, Food Pantry, Senior Sampler, Assault Survivor Kits and Community Outreach.
Martin said the Assistance League helped provide school clothes for 2,600 children this year through Operation School Belt.
“Parents brought the kids to Walmart,” Martin said. “Each student got $80.”
Martin said school counselors recommend children for the program and this year the Assistance League unfortunately had to turn kids away.
“There is always an increased need,” Martin said.
The Assistance League of Reno Sparks depends on fundraising and donations, including sales from the organization’s thrift store on Vassar Street in Reno, which includes a Senior Sampler section. Martin said seniors can drop off crafts for consignment and when they are sold 100 percent of the profits goes back to the senior.
Although Martin’s focus is leading the organization to help the community in multiple ways, on Friday she focused on education and the benefits the books would have in the hands of children who need them.
“A lot of these book might go to kids who don’t even have one book in their home,” Martin said, adding that the Molina Foundation does not dictate how the books are used.
Books can go to schools, be given to teachers and even distributed to students as prizes for excelling at a task.
“This is just wonderful,” Martin said. “We are just here to help the community as much as we can.”
For more information about the Assistance League of Reno Sparks, to volunteer or donate, call 329-1584 or e-mail officeALRS@yahoo.com.