When Jessica Kirkpatrick came to Santan K-8 Campus last month after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the Chandler Unified School District school wanted to help.
The seventh-grader’s middle school in Pass Christian, Miss., will be the first recipient of a districtwide new and gently used kid book collection drive, spearheaded by Santan junior high students.
"I couldn’t imagine if that happened to us," said eighth-grader Marc Ellis, a National Junior Honor Society member. "The hurricane was devastating, and I think we’ll help more with a book drive instead of collecting money."
Books for the Bayou will help replenish books in at least 10 elementary and middle schools in Louisiana and Mississippi damaged by the hurricanes. The goal is to collect 9,000 books, which would put 250 books in each classroom, school principal Frank Narducci said.
"This is something that doesn’t require batteries," said eighthgrader Suzanne Mouser, also a National Junior Honor Society member.
Twelve-year-old Jessica is staying with her mom temporarily in Chandler until her dad and brother finish repairing their home, said Jessica’s mom, Tina Kirkpatrick.
"Jessica’s teacher was excited to hear about the book drive," said Tina Kirkpatrick, who is staying with her father-in-law.
"I think it’s great. The school has been so accommodating to Jessica since she got here."
The Kirkpatrick house was damaged with 20 feet of water. Jessica’s dad and brother are living in a small tent trailer on the lot while rebuilding the house. The trailer has no electricity, television, shower or bathroom.
Large, round barrels donated from Bashas’ can be found at each of the 32 schools in the Chandler district. Santan K-8 eighth-grade language arts teacher Nicole Heiser designed the poster glued to all the bins and found around the schools.
Parent volunteers are needed to collect books from their school and bring them to Santan K-8 Campus, 1550 E. Chandler Heights Road, where the National Junior Honor Society and Student Council members will sort, stack and box the books.
Donations for shipping the books also are needed. Narducci said at this point he’s not sure how the books will get to the affected area, he said.
"I didn’t realize how big this project is," Narducci said. "The community has already been so caring. Even the schools in need of literature are donating."
The drive runs up to Dec. 22 or until the schools reach their goal of filling 900 boxes with books.
How to contribute
New and gently used K-8 children’s books can be dropped off at any Chandler district school. For school locations, visit ww2.chandler.k12.az.us. For information, call (480) 883-4607.