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April 10, 2017

Elementary students receive books from Leeds Ruritans

People think Fauquier is a rich county, but some kids don’t have books.
— Robert Shoemaker, Leeds Ruritan Club member
Book distribution
• Who: Leeds Ruritan Club with help from school librarians and the Reading is Fundamental program.

• Books: 680 total distributed Thursday.

• Schools: Coleman and Thompson Elementary.

• Money raised: $6,000 from Northern Piedmont Community Foundation grant; about $2,000 from the Leeds Ruritan Club and other organizations.

• Website: Click here.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Fourth-graders race to library tables covered with brand new books at the school near Marshall.

The students’ eyes light up as they flip through pages, searching for their favorite subject matter.

A few minutes later, about eight preschoolers walk quietly into Coleman Elementary School’s library.

Coleman Librarian Judy Sperka tells the class that the Leeds Ruritan Club donated a brand new book for each student to keep.

Eyes widen.

“Forever?” one preschooler slowly asks.

“Yes, forever,” Ms. Sperka says.

The Leeds Ruritans distributed about 680 books to elementary students at Coleman and Thompson Elementary last Thursday.

Each student in preschool through fifth-grade choses one fiction or non-fiction book to keep.

“If students are reading what they want, then they will read,” Ms. Sperka says. “That’s the benefit of this program.”

Coleman fourth-grader Crystalia Mascall chooses “101 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet Before You’re 12.”

“I’m really excited because I get to help the environment with my book,” 9-year-old Crystalia says.

About a year and a half ago, Robert Shoemaker rekindled the idea for the book giveaway.

“People think Fauquier is a rich county, but some kids don’t have books,” Mr. Shoemaker says.

“We’re constantly looking for new ways to help the community and benefit young and old,” Leeds Ruritan President Peter Carp adds.

To fund the program, the club received a $6,000 grant from the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation Patricia and Nicolaas Kortlandt Memorial Fund.

The Ruritans and the Leeds Episcopal Church Women also raised more than $2,000 through Hume Day and other events for the program.

A committee of school librarians, teachers, parents and club members picked out age-appropriate books for each grade level.

School librarians purchased the books for about $2.50 each through the national literacy organization Reading is Fundamental.

“Reading opens the door to every aspect of life,” Thompson Elementary librarian Carolyn Law says. “About half of our children have moderate income and they don’t have the opportunity to purchase books. To have ownership of a book is incredible. We have a lot of parents who work beyond the hours of the library.”

Leeds Ruritan member Marie Browning volunteered Thursday to help students pick out books.

“It encourages reading and they need to be able to read and comprehend before they can do anything else,” Ms. Browning says.

The club plans to distribute books three times a year at Coleman and Thompson.

“When the community reaches out to support our children in any way . . . it’s so appreciative and heartwarming,” Thompson Elementary Principal Marypat Warter says.

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