Volunteers ready to unpack, stack First Books

Students in the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES “School to Work” program (see photo) fold and count “Leaders for Literacy” event shirts and practice how to count and stack the books that will arrive Tuesday as part of First Book’s Truckload Challenge.

Volunteers and educators from WSWHE and NYSUT are getting ready to hand out 42,000 free books to area school districts and nonprofits serving needy children at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at the F. Donald Myers Education Center, 15 Henning Road and at NYSUT headquarters in Latham.

The tractor trailer, filled with an estimated 24 pallets of books from the American Federation of Teachers and First Book, was made possible after the organizations gathered 2,000 signatures from Title I eligible school teachers, administrators, support staff and board of education members. The books are valued at more than $400,000.

Once the books arrive, BOCES and NYSUT volunteers will unpack the pallets and organize the books by grade level. On Saturday, district and nonprofits, eligible for Title I funds, can register and pick up books that best meet the needs of their students and children.

Districts can also receive books by volunteering to sort the 24 pallets of books that will arrive on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the Myers Education Center.

NYSUT has met the First Book Truckload Challenge in two other areas of the state: New York City and Buffalo. This Truckload Challenge will be the first to distribute books to rural schools. However, Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Amsterdam and other Title I districts in the region city school districts are eligible to receive books during this distribution. United Way agencies and public libraries are also eligible.

“When united in a good cause for our students, the teachers union and the schools work well together,” said Ruth Shippee, the president of Southern Adirondack BOCES Employees Association, which is the local chapter of NYSUT. “Meeting the First Book Truckload Challenge is a testament to our commitment to our students and our community. I am so proud of all of our members who worked cooperatively and diligently to help students in ever corner of our region.”

“This very important community project will ensure our students — especially those in high-needs schools — not only have access to the wonderful world of books, but are instilled with a love of reading which is an important cornerstone in the foundation of lifelong learning,” said NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino. “When parents, educators and communities work together to support our schools, our children and youth benefit — especially during a time when fiscal constraints have resulted in cuts to vital programs and resources.”
First Book is a national not-for-profit that has already distributed more than 100 million free books to needy students throughout the United States and Canada. NYSUT and one of its national affiliates, the American Federation of Teachers, are longstanding partners with First Book and have launched other challenges throughout the state, including in Buffalo, Albany, Schenectady, New York City and several Long Island communities devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

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