UMSL Phi Kappa Phi promotes literacy at Koch Elementary, wins national book drive
The chapter donated 1,477 books to the nearby north St. Louis County school after collecting them for the national Phi Kappa Phi Book Drive Competition.
Koch Elementary Reading Specialist Maureen Green told the UMSL chapter that the children see the books as a special treat.
For the past three years, the UMSL Phi Kappa Phi chapter collected enough books during the annual drive so that each student in the school could be given their very own book to take home. The leftover books went to the Koch Elementary reading room, helping to build the collection there as well.
This year’s drive, held between Feb. 1 and April 30, saw participation from 22 Phi Kappa Phi chapters across the nation with a total of more than 7,000 donated books and $1,200 in monetary donations.
Since first participating in the collegiate honor society’s book drive, UMSL has been named one of the competition winners each year, including this one, for collecting the most books. Other 2017 competition winners are California State University at Chico, the University of Missouri–Kansas City and Western Illinois University in Macomb.
“It was a thrilling surprise to hear that we had been selected as winners for a third time in a row,” Zarucchi said. “But we have been even more delighted by the overwhelming number of books donated by the generous people on campus and from our local community.”
UMSL alumna and chapter Publicity Officer Shawntelle Fisher and former Student Vice President Rebecca Meza, who has since graduated, were instrumental in helping round up so many books. Each of them reached out to local churches, bookstores and teacher organizations. They also placed donation drop boxes around campus.
“I’m so happy that I was invited to be a part of this project because I can see that it has and will continue to make a difference in people’s lives – one book at a time,” Meza said.
The UMSL chapter received a wide variety of donations of gently used or brand-new items, including picture books for preschool children, DVDs and even some educational games in addition to the traditional K-5 story books. And topics ranged from art to zoology.
“I’ve been happy to see that many of the classics are still popular, like ‘Goodnight Moon’ and ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’” Zarucchi said. “When we sort through and count the books, each volunteer always recognizes some of their own childhood favorites, and it’s hard for us not to sit down and start reading for enjoyment.”
For its winning efforts, the UMSL chapter received a $325 prize that it will put toward purchasing books for next year’s drive. The chapter’s prizes from previous years have helped place a Little Free Library at the UMSL Children’s Advocacy Center and another at the St. Louis City Family Court, where children can choose a book to take home after a therapy session or read while in the waiting room of the court.
UMSL’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter has initiated several thousand members since its inception in 1980. Zarucchi has served as chapter president since 1998. For more information on Phi Kappa Phi at UMSL visit umsl.edu/~phikappaphi.
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