This is a story about a group of absolutely amazing students. It is also a story about an extraordinary educator, Laura Gardner.
Yesterday, the Junior National Honor Society at the Dartmouth Middle School donated 7, 326 gently used children’s books. They mobilized the entire school to bring in children’s books that were no longer used or needed. More on these wonderful young people in a minute.
There is another part of this story. It is a most important part. It’s the part that answers the questions, where does philanthropy and citizenship come from? Where does giving and service to others come from? The obvious answer is Parents and Grandparents. The answer is also our Educators.
There are parents and grandparents that go the extra mile, there are also educators who go beyond what is expected. Laura Gardner at the Dartmouth Middle School is a most perfect example of what is best among us. Laura is a bright and shining light connecting thousands of students to giving and service. We like to call it Tangible Philanthropy and Big Citizenship. In the twelve years we have been connected to Laura and the Dartmouth middle school, you would not believe the numbers! Here they are:
6,000 books (2011) Standard Times4,438 books (2015)10,000 books (2019) Dartmouth Week7,054 books this year…so far.In the last 12 years, we’ve collected over 37,000 books for GiftsToGive. Pretty powerful!
DARTMOUTH MIDDLE SCHOOL – If you entered the Dartmouth Middle School library anytime between the week of February 7th through 11th, you would’ve seen dozens of boxes and bags lining the walls. Stacked on top of each other and as far out of the way as possible, they were filled with the same items that inhabited the library’s shelves: books! All of them were collected as a part of DMS’s recent book drive, held by the school’s National Junior Honor Society.
In a competition between homerooms, the students brought in used children’s books in good condition for the local Southcoast charity GiftsToGive. In total, the NJHS gathered 7,054 books. “I was just so shocked to see that our school did that; a school with around 1,000 students and staff collected 7,000 books!” NJHS treasurer Sophia Rutkowski said about the achievement. Among the collectors were some shining stars. The winner of sixth grade was Mrs. Gonet’s homeroom, bringing in 468 books.
In seventh grade, it was Ms. Jacob’s, with 1,060. They were the only class to reach over 1,000 books, making the class responsible for nearly a seventh of the total donations. For eighth grade, it was Mrs. Hellstrom’s homeroom and their 473 books who won, with one student single-handedly leading the class to victory. Brady Edgcomb of the Hellstrom class sent in almost the entirety of his homeroom’s collection in tens of boxes. He spent hours going through old books in his home and his mother’s classroom, lugging them into the library with the aid of NJHS volunteers.
The winning homerooms will receive a pizza party as a reward for the students’ efforts. This is definitely not the NJHS’s first time holding such an event. Over the twelve years they’ve conducted drives, they’ve collected an impressive total of over 37,000 books. It’s a truly amazing feat that has provided countless of less fortunate children with the magic and education of books. The drive will not be their last, either. In the future, it can be expected that DMS’s Honor Society will collect more books, make more records, and impact more young lives.
GiftsToGive CEO Jim Stevens said:
Less than three miles from Dartmouth Middle School are thousands of children living in poverty. On the SouthCoast over 80,000 children live in poverty. One in ten of these children is homeless. The need is overwhelming. We know that public education and healthy families are the solution for child poverty. We also know that literacy is a key. Reading books build vocabulary and vocabulary is a key to literacy. Literacy is a key to school success. For Ms. Gardner to inspire and facilitate these students to collect so many books, makes a tangible difference. She truly is a bright and shining light. We are so grateful to have such a strong relationship.