The Norman Transcript

September 28, 2013

More than 5,000 books donated to Plaza Towers & Briarwood

By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript

MOORE — Elementary students shouted “I love to read,” “woah” and “cool” as stacks upon stacks of children’s books were hand-delivered to Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary schools on Friday.

Booksource, along with 44 publishers, donated and delivered more than 5,000 books to the two elementary schools destroyed by the May 20 tornados in Moore. Each of the 38 classrooms, from kindergarten through sixth grade, received more than 150 books for classroom libraries as well as a game donated by Peaceable Kingdom Press.

Booksource employees Beth Daniels, sales representative, Lauren McGeorge, buyer, and Colleen Frazier, second shift lead of processing, all agreed it was emotional but rewarding to deliver the books.

“We’re a very philanthropic organization,” Daniels said. “But what we were able to do is much greater than I thought it would be.”

Gary Jaffe, CEO of GL group Inc., said it was an honor to help the schools after the tragedy they suffered.

“We’re passionate about reading and education … We hope this donation will get books back in the hands of the children and help rebuild the reading programs in Moore,” Jaffe said.

Plaza Towers Principal Amy Simpson said the fact that Booksource reached out to the school meant so much and Booksource went above and beyond to make sure every book had a purpose. Booksource made sure every book aligned with Common Core so, whether for entertainment or education, the books will adhere to state standards, Simpson said.

Additionally, Simpson said Plaza Towers’ teachers were grateful because of the online cataloguing system and scanners that Booksource had provided.

“Now kids can check out books from the classrooms, and the teachers can keep track of who has what. Before, teachers would loan books and just have to hope they would get them back,” Simpson said.

Even the youngest students at Plaza Towers felt immediate excitement and gratitude for their new books. When kindergartner Connor Nowlin, from Jennifer Simonds’ class, heard how many books were delivered to his classroom, he slapped his forehead and exclaimed, “What in the world?”

After going through a devastating tornado herself, McGeorge said she wanted to help the children of Plaza Towers and Briarwood even more. In Shelly Calvert’s second grade class, students could barely keep their seats as McGeorge wheeled in a cart loaded with books. When Daniels asked if they loved to read, every single child raised their hand.

“I’m happy to see it come full circle,” McGeorge said about spending hours contacting publishers for donations.

As the distribution of books continued, some students immediately shouted out their favorite book like Isabelle De Lacruz, kindergartner, who happily said “Cat in the Hat” while others like Noah Collum, second grade, said he had read so many books he couldn’t name a favorite. With more than 30,000 book titles now available to Plaza Towers and Briarwood, students may have even more trouble settling on a top choice.

“Maya Angelou once said ‘Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him,’” Jaffe said. “We wish you a speedy recovery from the storms, sunny skies ahead and books in the hands of every child.”

Katherine Parker