Marvin Ridge Middle School student collects 680 books for local organization
When Caroline Blizzard entered her seventh grade Language Arts class this past year, she had no idea she would play a central role in supplying local children with 680 books. However, thanks to a classroom assignment, an inspiring book and a love for reading, that’s exactly what she accomplished.
The 13-year-old Marvin Ridge Middle School student teamed up with the nonprofit group Promising Pages to help other children have a better education. Promising Pages is a local organization that collects new and gently used children’s books and, through various social service agencies, redistributes them to kids who cannot afford to buy books.
Blizzard’s effort is part of a year-long curriculum that all seventh-graders at Marvin Ridge are taking through their Language Arts class. The course begins by studying civil rights, followed by an essay each student writes about his or her core beliefs, and ultimately transitions into a final unit which focuses on community service.
For the final unit, each student is required to read an autobiography about a person who has done something significant. The students then take the insight they gain from reading the book and use it as inspiration for their required community service project.
“We’ve had over 400 seventh-graders doing their own community service project, not on school time, but on their own time,” said Language Arts teacher Stephanie Haring. “They’ve all done a really amazing job.”
At first, Blizzard wasn’t sure which direction to take for her project. However, after choosing the book Three Cups of Tea for her required reading, an idea began to grow.
The book, written by Greg Mortenson, tells the story of a man who set out to climb K2, the second tallest mountain in the world, but instead took a wrong turn and ended up in a small Pakistani village. Seeing that there was no schoolhouse, the man worked to build the village’s first school and supply village children with essential educational materials.
Reading the book made Blizzard realize that not all students have the same educational opportunities she has. “It made me feel bad for the kids that aren’t able to have materials to read and write and learn,” she said. “I felt like I needed to somehow help them.”
Blizzard surfed the Internet with her mom and came across Promising Pages. An avid reader herself, Blizzard was immediately inspired and knew she had discovered the right cause. She contacted the organization and soon began distributing flyers and contacting local schools to encourage donations and rally support.
By the time her project was due, with the help of friends, family, the community, and three local schools, Blizzard secured a total of 680 books to donate to Promising Pages. Most of the books were geared toward children 10 and under, with a small handful of books for teens and pre-teens.
Blizzard is excited about the learning opportunities that these 680 books will provide for children in the area who need a helping hand. “The grade doesn’t matter to me as much as changing kids’ lives,” she said. “Some of those kids have probably never read a book before.”
In the future, Blizzard plans to continue to work with Promising Pages to collect more books and school supplies. She also hopes that her efforts could inspire and challenge her peers to get involved with her and not take their educational opportunities for granted.
“Some people in my school don’t like to read because they have to do it for school,” she said. “I would tell them to find a book they can enjoy. They should feel lucky because a lot of people don’t have that ability and can’t afford books or school supplies.”
For more information on how to get involved, visit www.promisingpages.com or facebook.com/promisingpages