Thousands of Washoe County School District (WCSD) students will have the opportunity to read and exchange a large supply of books, thanks to the efforts of the WCSD Volunteer Services Department and Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer Richard Birmingham.
"We received a grant that enabled us to gather some 200,000 books," said Birmingham. "And I thought it would be such a waste if we weren't able to give students a way to read the books and then exchange them for new ones to read."
Under the program, students will be given a free book to read at home. They will then be able to go to any of more than 70 "exchange centers" in the community to exchange the books for more reading material. Organizers hope this program will help students embrace reading as a lifelong source of pleasure and learning.
The Volunteer Services Department was able to engage community sponsors including Grassroots Books, the Community Compact, and Donna Clontz, president of the City of Reno Northwest Neighborhood Advisory Boards, to help gather the books. Birmingham helped set up the exchange centers at area schools, Boys and Girls Club locations in Reno and Sparks, Big Brothers/Big Sisters locations, public libraries, after-school programs, the cities of Reno and Sparks, and Team-Up 21st Century.
In all, a total of 71 exchange centers are available in public and private sites across the community. Glenn Duncan Elementary School is the first school site to host an exchange center.
"I'm so excited that we're able to expand literacy outreach to WCSD students in a way that did not adversely impact our financial situation," said Lisa-Marie Lightfoot, Volunteer Services administrator. "We are so grateful to our community partners who provided us with books and distribution locations. They helped make this program possible."
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