USAO's Books for Tots Gives 7,000 Books at Christmas
CHICKASHA -- In the midst of December's crippling ice storms, power outages and freezing temperatures last month, a team of college students and Chickasha community members played Santa's little helpers, resolving to deliver books to thousands of children across the state. Books for Tots, a student-led organization at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, provided more than 7,000 books to underprivileged children just in time for Christmas.
Books for Tots distributed more than 6,300 new books to Oklahoma children, as well as more than 700 used books to organizations serving children, such as hospitals and youth centers.
" Seeing children engrossed in good books, laughing, crying, learning new information or just using their imagination is a wonderful feeling," said Dr. Jeanne Mather, professor of education and founder of Books for Tots. " Unfortunately, there are children in our communities who seldom get the opportunity to experience the adventure of reading a book they can call their own."
A collaboration of the university's Student National Education Association (SNEA) and Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) Education Honor Society, Books for Tots celebrated 2007 by delivering books to children of all ages in 14 Oklahoma counties.
" Books for Tots does more than provide books to needy children," Mather said. " It also demonstrates the caring, compassionate nature of people. Thus the goals of the project are to promote reading, give children the joy of having a book of their own, teach the value of altruism and community service and, in short, make a difference in the lives of children."
In all, Books for Tots has delivered more than 41,500 new books to Oklahoma children over the past 12 years. The organization has received national, state and local recognition for its service. A volunteer organization, the group spends each year raising money for book purchases and reaching out for donations of new books.
Books for Tots works with organizations such as Children's Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House, Grady Memorial Hospital, Southwest Youth Services and the Department of Health Services to locate children in need of books.
Traditionally, books and monetary gifts are distributed within the counties in which they are donated. However, Mather said many factors and outside organizations enabled Books for Tots to service not only Grady County and surrounding counties, but new counties as well.
These factors include donations made from the USAO Student Government, which represents counties across the state; free books awarded by the National Book Bank, which brought 50,000 new books to the state, of which Books for Tots received more than 2,000 pre-school books; SNEA and KDP fundraisers throughout the year; and donations from individuals stipulating that their donation could benefit children anywhere in the state.
" I'd also like to recognize Standley Systems for jumping in and helping deliver books to the far corners of the state," she said. " In a year with floods, wild fires, ice storms and power outages, it is truly a tribute to those who gave of themselves or their money to help make a difference in the life of a child."
Although Christmas is 11 months away, Mather said her organization already is gearing up for this year's big delivery and is receiving donations of new books, gently used books and cash donations throughout the year. Book donations may be delivered at the reception desk on the second floors of either Troutt Hall or Gary Hall. Mather is available by phone at (405) 574-1291.
" Thanks to all who helped Books for Tots strive to live up to its motto of 'opening minds, hearts, souls and dreams,'" she said.