Everyone remembers reading their first book perhaps Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" or "Goodnight Moon" -- and feeling that sense of pride. If the child owns the book, the experience is even richer.
This treasured experience is available to many children in the Buffalo area, but not to all.
In owning his or her own books, a child can mature into a confident student in school and later a successful adult. The importance of books in a child's life is vital to encouraging a lifelong love of learning.
The Buffalo News' Books for Kids strives to make this extraordinary experience of reading and owning books possible for every child. This program extends across Buffalo, one of the poorest cities in the nation, where many families do not have the financial means to purchase books for their children.
For 16 years, the goal of Books for Kids has been to distribute books to students across the Western New York region; however, the initial program was missing an important component: the support from Buffalo's high school students.
"It's undeniably satisfying to realize that the books go directly into the hands of someone who lives nearby and is so similar to who we were not too long ago," said Grace Anzalone, a past coordinator of the Books for Kids high school drive and a 2010 graduate of Nardin Academy.
Begun at the high school level by Alex Anzalone, who was then a Canisius High School student, and continued by his sister, Grace, Books for Kids has been collecting books at the high school level for six years.
Now taking on the role of high school coordinator, I realize the importance of this book drive in getting books into the homes of children who need them.
With the annual book drive quickly approaching, Books for Kids would like to extend an invitation to corporate sponsors or private contributors to donate either new books or money.
These donations will go directly toward clubs, schools and community centers, which serve less fortunate segments of the community.
Since its establishment in 1995, Books for Kids has donated more than 1.9 million books to needy children and intends to expand its efforts. For more information, go to www.buffalo.com/booksforkids.
The upcoming high school drive, beginning in early April and ending in early May, has numerous schools involved, but the organization can always use additional support. All it requires is a collection box at your school and an enthusiastic coordinator to get the word out.
If you are interested in helping out, either by running a book drive at your school or by making a book contribution, contact Gabi Jehle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gabi Jehle is a junior at Nardin Academy and this year's high school coordinator of Books for Kids.