Slippery Rock University’s Student Nonprofit Alliance collected nearly 10,000 children books across the country by this month to honor Sandy Hook Elementary School students who were just learning how to read.
“I think we’ve hardly anyone in America who weren’t impacted by it,” Ms. Alice Del Vecchio, a professional studies assistant professor, said about the massacre that occurred in December.
Del Vecchio and the Student Nonprofit Alliance organized “We Can Read!” a book drive asking donors to purchase their favorite children’s book, read it by his or her self or to a child and then donate it to the group by Feb. 10.
9,835 books and a total of $700 were donated to Pittsburgh Chapter of Reading is FUNdamental and Carnegie Libraries. Of the total amount of books, SRU collected 500 books and Reach Out and Read Kansas City collected about 6,000 books. The Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy collected a number of books, but did not keep count.
Twenty-one groups and individuals nationwide organized their local We Can Read projects, and the books were distributed to 14 sites.
The SRU group distributed We Can Read Collection boxes in the lobbies of all residence halls, classroom buildings, Student Accounts Office, in the Professional Studies Department, the Music Department and the Dance Department offices. The Butler County Children’s Center received over 2,000 of those books on Feb. 14.
Del Vecchio came up with the idea for the book drive after listening to a victim’s dad in the media. The victim, Emilie Parker, 6, was shot and
died in Sandy Hook Elementary School last December. Del Vecchio responded to a quote from Emilie’s father, Robbie Parker. She said that Parker talked about how Emilie just learned how to read and enjoyed reading to her little sisters.
“I remember how empowering it felt to me when I was four or five years old, and I could read by myself,” Del Vecchio said. “That whole piece of empowerment, independence and security and safety that comes from being a first-time reader, I thought about that when Mr. Parker talked about his daughter.”
She talked with her students and decided to host a book drive. Bill Shackner from Pittsburgh Post Gazette featured about the drive on the front page on Dec. 19. A total of 44 organizations and individuals reacted to the Post Gazette article and other media outlets.
Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed a total of 27 students and teachers including his mother.
“How do you make sense of that?” Del Vecchio said. “And people asked, ‘What can I do?’ You know? Everybody felt this need to act.”
Del Vecchio sent Valentine’s Day cards, the results of the book drive and some of the stories from respondents to the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown and Emilie’s parents.
The Student Nonprofit Alliance studies to work with organizations such as the Young Men’s Christian Association, The Boys and Girls Club, United Way and The Heart Association. They do service projects, events such as “The Cupcake Wars” and raise money for charities.