Members of Mortar Board, a national senior honor society, are holding an on-campus book drive to benefit students in underprivileged schools, as well as alumni who participate in Teach for America.
Richmond’s Pi Alpha chapter is accepting books for different ages, from children to high school students, senior Lauren Henry, president of Mortar Board, said. The chapter has chosen the book drive as its means of contribution to Reading is Leading, Mortar Board’s national philanthropy, which all chapters are encouraged, but not required, to take part in, Henry said.
“Literacy’s a big problem, no matter where you are,” senior Vice President Jenny Jarboe said. “Learning to read gives students chances they wouldn’t have had before.”
Promoting nationwide literacy is important because America’s school system has not always been successful in accommodating its students, Henry said.
Although unsure about which local schools the books will go to this year, members want to work with Mortar Board alumni, Henry said.
“Two main points of Mortar Board are to support your community and support your alma mater,” she said. “We thought that we would really try to benefit former UR students who are working for Teach for America, so we can support the schools that they’re working for. …We’re also going to try to donate to the Richmond community – to underprivileged school districts or community centers.”
In past years, donations have gone to local schools, such as Henderson Middle School, which no longer need the help, Jarboe said. Donations have also gone to after-school programs, such as William Byrd Community House, but the chapter might not be able to meet the organization’s specific needs this year, Henry said.
For the past five consecutive years, the Pi Alpha chapter members have either held a book drive or collected money for the First Book Project, Elisabeth Wray, the chapter’s faculty adviser, said in an email.
In 2009, members raised $260 for the First Book Project, which donates books to underprivileged children, according to a 2009 Collegian article. This money bought 130 books, a number that Henry said she hoped to match this year.
Henry said that she estimated the current collection to be about 30 books, since the drive had begun on Feb. 11. Books can be delivered to the Mortar Board bin in the Tyler Haynes Commons near the second-floor entrance to Tyler’s Grill. Donations will be accepted through the rest of the week, if not longer, Henry said.
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