Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club members set up tables May 3-10 near the Long Neck Elementary School library and helped children select two free books each. Children from preschool through fifth grade browsed eagerly to find the perfect choices. During the school book fair, more than 1,500 books were provided to the 767 students attending Long Neck Elementary. Almost 900 were purchased this year from Browseabout Books; the remainder were from prior purchases and gently used books donated by community members. An additional 274 novels were given to fourth-grade students and 256 to fifth-graders in separate presentations May 21.
“Our vision at Long Neck Elementary is to develop a community that inspires leaders,” said Long Neck Elementary School Principal Clara Conn. “The Long Neck Rotary Club has had a positive impact in supporting our vision. Their continuous work and support have set a model for our students in developing as leaders. The students see firsthand how leadership within the community can make a difference, and our student leaders enjoy seeing the Rotary Club members involved with our school. The club’s generosity is not only appreciated, but again demonstrates the leadership and character traits all students need to be active citizens in their community.”
In 2018, Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Youth Committee Chair Tracey Gross originated the club’s book donation project at Long Neck Elementary, and club members set about gathering gently used books and forging a relationship with Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach to purchase some new ones. More than 1,600 books were distributed in May 2018 during Long Neck’s book fair week.
Paulette Rappa, then club president, suggested applying for a Rotary District 7630 Grant to allow more book purchases and provide two free novels to fourth- and fifth-grade students to help them hone their reading skills. She prepared the application, and the club received a Rotary Reads grant for the 2018-19 Rotary year.
Gross and fellow club member Sharon Marshall later worked with Alex Colevas, children’s buyer at Browseabout, to purchase age-appropriate books and make best use of the grant funds. With suggestions from Long Neck Elementary teachers, the titles chosen for fifth grade were “Esperanza Rising,” by Pam Munoz Ryan and Newbery Award-winner “Number the Stars,” by Lois Lowry. Fourth-grade titles selected were “The BFG” by Roald Dahl and “The Boy Who Ran for President” by Dan Gutman.
“Our club has a history of working with youth in the greater Long Neck area,” said Gross. “As a parent of school-age children, I am extremely gratified that our organization is so dedicated in helping all children in the area, regardless of background. There is nothing better than a good book to stimulate the mind of a child. We are so grateful to be able to work with Browseabout Books to make this happen.”