CSU-Pueblo is reaching out to the community this holiday season through its annual book drive sponsored by the Teacher Education program and its student organization.
“Bring a kid a book” began in 2000 and has helped provide books for needy children in Pueblo elementary schools each December.
Jeremiah Blaha, curriculum center coordinator for the Teacher Education program at CSU-Pueblo, is very proud of the efforts he’s seen over the years.
“We’ve been sponsoring the book drive for 14 years now, and it has grown into the largest children’s literacy drive in Pueblo,” he said. “Last year we collected 3,813 books and distributed them to children at four elementary schools in the area. We’re hoping to surpass that number this year.”
The Teacher Education program has a history of involvement in the community and the connection goes far beyond the literacy program.
“Our students put in 210 hours of field experience before they get to student teach,” said Blaha. “They are in the schools, working in the community.”
Service projects such as school-supply drives have been a part of the experience in the past and this year a new program called “Outreach to Teach” is being implemented.
“Outreach to Teach focuses on improving our local schools. If a school needs painting or other improvements, we’ll go in and do the work,” Blaha said.
School budgets are not equipped to cover such improvements in low income areas, and the volunteers from the CSU-Pueblo Teacher Education program can help do whatever work needs to be done. Blaha said the program would not only benefit those participating, but will also give much needed assistance to schools in the community.
The BAKAB book drive is the main focus of the department as the end of the year approaches. They hope to have enough to distribute before the end of semester classes. The goal this year is 4,500 books, and so far, the collection totals are just shy of 2,000.
“We’d like to be able to distribute to at least three large elementary schools this December,” Blaha said. “So far we’ve committed to Minnequa Elementary and two other schools are on board for donations. We need more donations so if anyone would like to contribute new or gently-used children’s books, we’ll be happy to take them.”
Blaha said they would also accept moderately used books that will be distributed to local family shelters like the YWCA.
“We don’t turn down any books,” he said. “There are always places that can use them, even if they aren’t perfect.”
This year, kids from kindergarten to sixth grade will receive the donated books. More books and volunteers from all areas of campus are needed to help sort, box and deliver books when the drive is complete.
“We can use volunteers to help us process and distribute the books to the schools,” Blaha said. “Students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to help.”
If you have books to donate or would like to assist with the book drive in any way, you may do so by contacting Jeremiah Blaha at 719-549-2216 or at email@example.com.