Five students in the School of Communication Studies’ Small Groups and Teams course, taught by Professor Rebecca Cline, Ph. D., last fall collected 2,300 new and gently used children’s books to donate to the Reach Out and Read Program at Akron Children’s Hospital.
With a course requirement that students choose a project to help a population in dire need, team members John Birkbeck, Skyler Chill, Sarah Courey, Kurt Freiberg and Eli Martin decided they wanted to participate in a project that would help children.
By the end of the fall semester, the collection of 2,300 books more than doubled their original goal, making the total one of the largest Reach Out and Read donations from a university to Akron Children’s Hospital.
“All the members in our group have a heart for children, and after researching organizations which assist children’s needs, I found Akron Children’s Hospital’s Reach Out and Read Program,” Courey said.
Team members collected the books through partnerships with libraries, donation boxes placed in strategic locations and through a book drive competition at Tri-Valley High School. Members stored books at their houses or their residence halls and later transported them to a storage facility in Akron.
Akron Children’s Hospital’s Reach Out and Read Program gives away more than 40,000 children’s books (ranging from toddler to teenage reading level) each year. Books are placed in lobbies and patient rooms at the hospital’s 22 campuses; when a child finds books he or she enjoys, the patient is encouraged to keep them. Many of these children have cancer and are hospital bound most of their life; these books could be the only ones they will ever receive.
Through Reach Out and Read, pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners give the parents or caregivers of children ages 6 months to 5 years new, age-appropriate children’s books and suggestions for how to help their children develop a love of books and reading.
“This project not only benefited children with cancer at Akron Children’s Hospital, but also impacted our lives in a positive way,” Courey said.