Columbia Middle School Student Book Collection
Each semester, students in the Columbia Middle School Outreach Elective work in groups and look for new ways to give back to the community by identifying and then meeting a need. One of this past semester’s groups decided to combine their love of books with a desire to bring the joy of reading to children who need it most. They created a book drive in honor of Beatrice Geiger, retired CMS Principal Frank Geiger’s granddaughter who is currently in the care of CHoP, and donated the items to the hospital.
The group started by creating a contest for the BHPS elementary schools where the classroom that donated the most books at each school would get a special visit from the middle schoolers. From there, the students planned a bookmark craft activity to do with the winning class, as well as small group readings of their favorite children’s books. The principals and teachers in each school were fully invested in making the project a success and the results were incredible. The elementary schools collected nearly 6,500 books in total for donation. The middle schoolers were thrilled to visit each school to thank the younger students and reward the winning classes at each. When they saw the stacks of books in the schools’ front hallways, they were overwhelmed by the generosity of those who donated.
“We are once again blown away by the generosity of this community. The “Books for Beatrice” crew set out to collect 200 books to donate to CHOP and ended up with nearly 6,500 in total from the schools! Now we have the opportunity to support several organizations beyond the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,” said Belinda Healey, CMS English Teacher and the Outreach Class Teacher. She added, “Most of all, I am impressed by the students who ran this book drive, organizing every detail from advertisements, to correspondence with principals, leading classroom celebrations for the “winning” classes, to sorting through thousands of books. I am so proud of them and grateful to all those who supported their cause!”
Jessica Nardi, Principal at Thomas P. Hughes Elementary School, one of the elementary schools that supported the initiative said, “The Berkeley Heights community is always incredibly compassionate and generous, and I am so proud of our students for many reasons. In this case, the collaboration between the schools was amazing. The older students felt so empowered coming back to visit their former schools in a leadership role, and the younger students enjoyed the mentorship of their older peers. Of course, it also makes us all feel great to see the incredible quantity of donations going to support amazing organizations.”
CMS Outreach, an elective offered through the English Department, involves group-run service projects where the students research areas of need within the school, town, and broader community and then design and implement a service project of their choosing to meet that need. It is in its second year and is offered each semester to students at Columbia Middle School as an elective.
Photo by Berkeley Heights Public Schools