Cassville school district gets donation of 2,500 books

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First Book National Bank gift allows students to get free book at Title 1 night

The Cassville school district recently received a shipment of free books -- 2,500 of them.

"We received the books because one of our teachers found a website that offered the books if the shipping was paid," said Cathy Nunley, Cassville Intermediate School teacher. "The company is out of Kansas City. Jerry Watley paid the shipping for us to get the books."

Watley is the owner of Able 2 and a local real estate owner, and Nunley applied for the books online.

"Title 1 usually purchases enough books to give away on the Title 1 activity nights for Kindergarten through fifth-graders only," Nunley said. "Knowing the budget is limited and wanting to be able to give something to all students, I just began googling free books for distribution for low-income schools. I came across the First Book National Bank."

Through its national book bank program, First Book National Bank connects publishers with local school and community programs to provide free books for children in need. It is purportedly the nation's only clearinghouse for large-scale book donations, placing 8 million books into the hands of children each year. Anyone who works at a Title 1 school or program serving at least 70 percent children from low-income families is eligible.

The first application was denied, Nunley said.

"No reason was given, but it stated other opportunities would be available," she said.

Publisher partners donate large quantities of new books to First Book. Teachers or program leaders review the list of available books, select which books they want, then First Book matches the requests with the donated books and sends the shipment, using volunteers and borrowed warehouse space to carry it out.

The books are completely free, with only a shipping and handling fee of 45-85 cents per book. Nunley said the school received an email at a later date that the application had been approved.

Able 2 arranged to have the books shipped to Cassville and donated the cost of the shipping. Books were shipped to the company, then school staff delivered them to the district.

The shipment of books is the first of its kind to the district.

"To my knowledge, the school has not received this many free books at one time," said Jill LeCompte, assistant superintendent.

The books cover a wide variety of subjects, are for ages preschool to high school and include boardbooks; coloring books and activity books for preschoolers; and reading books, including fiction and nonfiction, for older children.

"Many of the books for the older students are hard cover chapter books," Nunley said. "Some are chapter books, others are picture books. I feel like we have a very good variety."

Nunley has taught 23 years at the Cassville school district, with 21 of those years spent teaching fourth grade. She is in her second year of teaching title reading for third, fourth and fifth grades.

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