Local Seventh-Graders Collect 1,500 Books for Students in Anguilla
Grover Cleveland Middle School students driven to collect books after visiting Caribbean island last summer with their families.
Sixty-one boxes of books are on their way to make a difference for students on a Caribbean island this week thanks to the efforts of two Grover Cleveland Middle School seventh graders.
Kaitlyn Kinsella and Emma Scott presented the results of their service project, “A Book Can Make a Difference,” to the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education Monday night.
The students explained how on a trip they took to Anguilla with their families last summer they met a woman named Claire who homeschooled children. Through Claire and friends they met while vacationing they learned about the scarcity of books on the island.
“A lot of children don’t have access to books like we do,” Kaitlyn explained in their presentation. There is a library, but not everyone has a car or can get to the library.”
At the start of the school year, the students approached Grover Cleveland Middle School Principal James Brown about their desire to set up boxes around the school to collect books for the children of Anguilla.
Brown agreed, and the three-month collection grew beyond their expectations. While the girls set out to collect 10 boxes of books, they said they had 12 boxes within the first two weeks. Drop-off sites were set up at schools around the district, donations were brought to their houses and the district pitched in gently used textbooks.
Local businesses also helped by donating boxes for the books, which were sorted and packed by the girls, as they worked out how to pay for shipping the boxes to the Caribbean.
A big break came in October when a resident of Anguilla read a story about their project on Patch. The reader put them in touch with the country’s Chief Education Officer who explained to them that if they could get the books to the port of Miami, she would have them shipped from Miami to Anguilla.
The girls then researched how much it would cost to transport the books to Florida. With the help of a local Weichert Realtors, Armstrong Relocation stepped forward and offered to transport the books for free.
On March 5, 61 boxes holding approximately 1,500 books for toddlers through teenagers as well as adults were loaded onto a truck and headed south to Florida. The books were expected to arrive in Miami this week, where they will be loaded onto a ship to their final destination in Anguilla.
Kaitlyn and Emma thanked their principal and local families for their generosity Monday night, and they also thanked their parents who, Emma said, "guided and helped us sometimes, but let us do this project on our own.”
Anguilla is an English-speaking British overseas territory known for its caves, coral reefs and marine life, according to wikitravel.com.