Del. Debra Davis (D-Charles), in partnership with the Maryland Book Bank, is distributing upwards of 10,000 books to Charles County students in the coming months.
Davis told Southern Maryland News the idea to distribute books to students in the county is the “brainchild” of Melissa Bender, the state delegate’s chief of staff.
“Education is her thing,” Davis said. “When it became apparent that kids weren’t going to have books and libraries were closed, [Bender] got it in her head that she would make sure kids in our district would have books.”
The books are set to be distributed with the school lunch program that 11 schools in the county established initially during the pandemic.
Initially, the books will be distributed contactless at the following schools the week of July 30: Lackey High School, Indian Head Elementary School and JC Parks Elementary School. The remaining meal sites will be served the following weeks.
“Currently, the school system has a program where they are giving out lunches during the day,” she said. “There are 11 schools, where you can go right now in the county, where you can pick up school lunches during the day. We decided to partner the book distribution with that program.”
Her goal, she said, is making a difference and doing her part in the community. “I inspire my staff to do the same,” she said. “I believe that this is a small part to keeping the kids reading over the summer.”
The mission of the Maryland Book Bank is pretty simple, said Mark Feiring, executive director, during an interview with Southern Maryland News. He added the that the group distributed “almost 10,000 random children’s books, pre-k to fourth or fifth grade.”
“We are a nonprofit organization that is basically committed to cultivating literacy in children from under-resourced neighborhoods,” he said. “We serve primarily Baltimore City directly, but we are statewide.”
He said there are children from “everywhere” in the state that come to get books from the Maryland Book Bank due to their inherent need to be successful in school.
Bender said during a telephone interview that there is no official name for the program as of now because it is still in the initial stages. Additionally, she gave thanks to the project’s partners.
“The Maryland Book Bank was absolutely instrumental. We got a bunch of advice up front,” she said. “We heard about awesome work they were doing with Baltimore City Public Schools all the way back in April. They were handing out books at school meals programs.”
Her impetus for the program came when her and her partners realized some students did not have myriad of reading materials at home.
“We got these massive book shipments that are sitting right now at the La Plata warehouse,” she said. “We hope to be able to start distributing ideally on Thursday, but need to make sure we have enough people.”
She explained recruiting of people is happening right now to aide in the distribution of the books, adding additional man power will be needed in the effort.
“What we will be doing now is recruiting a couple of people to set up a separate table at the 11 school sites,” she said. “We intend to hit each of the 11 schools.”