First Book-Union College gives children 7,000 brand new books

Joann Herrington, associate professor of education, strives to spread literacy and happiness to disadvantaged children in the local area.

"Reading has always been a part of my life," she said, "and I want that for the kids."

In 2003, Herrington organized the Lincoln chapter of First Book, an international nonprofit organization that gives new books to low-income families. Since then over 7,000 books have been placed into the hands of kids in Lincoln thanks to efforts of First Book-Union College, whose staff fluctuates each year as interested students come and go. This year, Chris Webb, senior communication major, is helping the cause by incorporating First Book needs into his Grant Writing and Proposal class. It's efforts such as these that allow First Book-Union College to flourish.

First Book deals only in new books that are given to children to keep, so that their love for literature can grow. Over the holiday season, the chain-bookstore Borders teamed up with First-Book to raise over $1.1 million. That money was then allotted to the various chapters and advisory boards around the nation who submitted grant applications. Recently, First Book-Union College was able to provide $4,000 in Borders gift cards to three recipients in Lincoln: St. Mary's Elementary, Lincoln Public Schools' Excite Head Start and Brownell Community Learning Center. Another 176 books were given to the Foster Grandparent and RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) reading programs in Chardon, Neb. The Union College chapter, the only First Book program in Lincoln, Neb., has also been making its own partnerships with Meadowlark Press and with Union College's Associate Student Body. The proceeds from the last Bachelor Action held by ASB went towards First Book-Union College's goal.

"I'm very thrilled about how many books are in children's hands," Herrington said. "What I would really like to see, as far as First Book-Union College, is more people getting involved. If we can raise more funds that means more books can go out into the community."

To get involved, contact Joann Herrington at 402.486.2600 x2173 or send an e-mail to joherrin@ucollege.edu.

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