UNC's Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda club hosted a book drive for elementary students in the parking lot of the Chapel Hill Public Library on Saturday. The club provided 110 books to over 50 children.
The FBLA community service committee launched the project to help those most affected by COVID-19. With school libraries and the Chapel Hill Public Library closed off to the public, the club sought to expand the reading resources of children who lack social connection during the pandemic, Jessa Maynard, one of the event organizers, said.
“When the project was first thought of, all the kids were online in school,” Maynard said. “We wanted to give kids a way to have fun and feel connected to the outside world for free.”
The event functioned as a drive-thru library. To accommodate for COVID-19, parents and children stayed in their cars as club members delivered free books.
The FBLA community service committee found that other donation drives already provided personal protective equipment, like hand sanitizer and masks, so the book club looked to address other impact areas of COVID-19, Chloe Saine, an organizer of the event, said.
“We thought that this would be a really good way to give back during COVID-19 that was not a form of (Personal Protective Equipment), but a form of giving back to kids, especially elementary school students who are struggling with the transition from in-person to remote learning,” Saine said.
FBLA used different methods to fundraise about $800 to buy the books, Saine said. The club reached out to publishing houses for grants, crowdfunded using GoFundMe and collaborated with Chipotle for a takeout fundraiser night.
Saine said the club tried to be conscientious of Black History Month by offering books on historical Black figures and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Diversity in literature is an important thing," Saine said. “That is how you learn. You learn from reading if you can’t learn from experience.”
The club gave away 110 books of the over 800 at the site, the remainder of which will be donated to Carrboro Elementary, a Title I school.
Max Sarafin, a senior majoring in business and president of UNC's FBLA-PBL chapter, said that books are especially important for kids during the pandemic because they are more susceptible to watching too much TV or playing video games.
“Books give them the opportunity to develop their imaginations and build their reading levels and experience something outside of the typical technology driven environment that we are all accustomed to now," Sarafin said.
Saine said that the book drive is personal for her because she has loved to read since she was a child. She wants the book drive to aid young readers in a key developmental phase.
“We are hoping today that maybe we have one or two kids and we give them that book and they go home and read it and they say ‘Oh my gosh this is the best book I ever read. I want to read more,’” Saine said. “Through this, they can really develop their literacy skills or their reading and writing skills and just foster this love of reading that they carry with them throughout their life.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.