By Kelly Rogers
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Elementary school students turned extra books into cash through an annual service learning project with philanthropic goals.
Students of Madison Elementary School presented Second Chance Animal Sanctuary of Norman with a donation of $400 Thursday afternoon. As part of the school’s annual service learning project, students had a book sale to raise funds for this year’s charity efforts.
“Bulldog Bookstop” boasts the elementary’s mascot in the name but has proven successful for raising money year after year, third-grade teacher Michale Gentry said.
Students began donating their old books in January and promoted their favorites with posters and handmade signs. When it came time for the sale, collected books were sold in the price range of $0.50 to $1, which made the grand total even more impressive to sixth-grader Dylan Gentry.
“It was really cool to see how much we had raised after selling books for such a small price,” Dylan said. “That means we sold a lot of books.”
More than 1,000 books, to be exact, Gentry said. Although many books walk out of the “Bookstop” to ensure all students have something to read this summer, many of them proved profitable, she said.
To organize the event, students broke into committees, tackling the project from every angle. From making commercials to designing posters, Gentry said students used their individual strengths to contribute to promoting the book sale.
With the help of an app named “Audioboo,” students created their own promotions for the “Bulldog Bookstop.” A grant from Cox Communications allowed student access to iPods to record their commercials and podcasts, Gentry said.
With the recently added technology, sixth-grader Maddison said it’s been fun to watch the project change over the years.
“This has allowed us to combine our technology skills and our love for reading,” Gentry said.
After 21 years as a teacher in the Norman Public Schools district, Gentry said teaching elementary has proven to be her favorite.
“You don’t have to grow up if you teach elementary school children,” she said. “This project shows them that you don’t have to wait to grow up to figure out a way to give back.”
For some organizations, Shelter Director Sean Popp said it is the mighty efforts of local community members that keep them going. As a true nonprofit organization, the Second Chance facility thrives solely off monetary and material donations to operate.
“It’s 100 percent just people donating to us,” he said. “It’s amazing and awesome, stressful and crazy, but so far, it’s been a great adventure.”
While some donations are made with specific causes in mind, general donations from the public flow into the facility’s operational fund, which takes care of anything from cleaning supplies to electric bills, Popp said.
“We are a Norman-grown, Norman-based organization and we’re here to help Norman as much as possible,” he said. “However, we also help with animal welfare in all of central Oklahoma.”
With a lot of ground to cover, Popp said surrounding areas like Tuttle, Oklahoma City, Mustang, Yukon and Moore are other areas that they’ve helped out — to name a few.
Gentry said last year’s project plans were to donate to Second Chance, by student request, but the focus quickly shifted once the EF-5 tornado hit Moore on May 20, 2013.
“The kids decided they wanted to try again this year,” Gentry said. “It’s a second chance at Second Chance for us.”
As part of the project, the kids researched local and global charities to form their own opinions about where their funds should go. After a lengthy discussion and debate, the majority vote decided to give to Second Chance. Gentry said it’s exciting to see the children voting and make decisions democratically.
“Every year as they grow and continue to participate, being involved has more meaning to them as they see what they’re accomplishing,” Gentry said.
An online wishlist is posted on the shelter’s website to give the public an idea of their current needs, for those interested in donating items.
For more information, visit secondchancenorman.
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