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    Bellefonte Reads again supports the Jared Box Project with book donations

    *By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD

    When the Bellefonte Reads committee went into this year with plans to collect books for the Jared Box Project, they set a goal to raise 250 books. In less than a month, 297 books were collected that were then donated to the Centre County-based organization that aims to lift the spirits of hospitalized children by providing them with a bin filled with items including small gifts, toys, games and more.

    This year, all donations through the book drive will stay local, according to Jackie Wynkoop, secondary literacy coach and co-chairwoman of Bellefonte Reads. Those books also include a Bellefonte Reads bookmark to further promote where the books came from and what the organization’s mission is.

    “This book drive helps spread our message and gets quality books in the hands of children and families,” Wynkoop said. “The success of this initiative has shown us that this community really values literacy.”

  • The book drive, beginning Aug. 12, was first open to faculty and staff at Bellefonte Area School District encouraged to donate at drop-off bins located at schools within the district. It was then open to the community where a drop box was placed at the Centre County Library in downtown Bellefonte. An Amazon Wishlist was also created with a variety of new, yet inexpensive, books for infants, toddlers, preschool and elementary-aged children, and teens.

    Wynkoop said that before the Sept. 27 deadline, all books on the list were cleared with donations coming locally and from out-of-state donors.

    Last year, 188 books were collected during the inaugural book drive. This year, the committee’s goal was exceeded by nearly 50 more books than they aimed for. The committee also held a contest through its Facebook and Twitter accounts, awarding a Barnes and Noble gift card to the community member who was the closest to guessing the total number of books collected. That person ended up donating the gift right back to Bellefonte Reads to reinvest in the program, Wynkoop said.

    The Jared Box Project was founded in 2001 by members of Our Lady of Victory Catholic School in State College and named in memory of a student, Jared McMullen, who died of cancer. According to the initiative’s website, more than 200,000 boxes have been delivered to children in hospitals across the country.

    The Bellefonte Reads committee is now in the works of narrowing down books for this school year’s One Book, One Bellefonte campaign that will begin in the winter.

    To learn more about Bellefonte Reads and its annual initiatives, visit this link: Bellefonte READS. You may also follow them on Facebook, here: Bellefonte READS Facebook, and Twitter, here: Bellefonte READS Twitter.