‘Reading’ the community’s need


Power of Florence celebrated its 10th anniversary by collecting children’s books to be distributed to area students

July 22, 2020 — With the uncertainty of what school will look like this fall, the 10th annual Power of Florence focused on assuring area kids have access to books at home. 

“At school, they have access to hundreds of book titles in their reading level to help them learn to read and learn to love reading,” said Shannon McCormick-Graham, a teacher in the Siuslaw School District and organizer of this year’s Power of Florence event. “However, even if they are at home doing distance learning part of the time, many will lose access to children’s books because they have few or none in their home.”

To help remedy that, this year’s event collected gently used children’s books along with selling blueberries — with the money raised being used to purchase new children’s books from First Book, a nonprofit organization that sells books to Title I schools.

Helping with Saturday’s event were daughter Kaylee, husband Tod, along with Tami Worley and Leah and Melody Lumadue.

“We were blown away by the generosity and kindness in this community,” said McCormick-Graham. 

During this past Saturday’s event, some 800 high-quality new and gently used children’s books were donated by residents. 

In addition, Siuslaw Public Library Children’s Program Coordinator “Ms. Gayle” is currently going through the library collection and pulling children’s books that have not been checked out in the last five years and will be donating them for the cause. 

“We completely sold out of the 125 pounds of blueberries we originally picked, then took orders for more,” McCormick-Graham said. “We picked and delivered another 100 pounds on Sunday. So many people gave big, incredibly generous donations both in person and online so that we can purchase brand new books from First Book.

All told, the event raised $6,240 as of Tuesday, with some donations still coming in.

“We will be able to buy so many books with those donations for kids to be able to have their own little home libraries,” said McCormick-Graham. “Thank you does not seem adequate, but it is heartfelt to everyone who helped make our fundraiser and book collection such a big success.”

When the online fundraiser campaign is complete, McCormick-Graham plans to order books for area students who have registered. 

Anyone interested can still donate directly to the fundraiser online campaign through First Book until Aug. 3 at https://support.firstbook.org/fundraiser /2822189.

For more information or to donate gently used children’s books, email McCormick-Graham at [email protected]

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