by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
As part of Black History Month, the Office of Student Activities and Cultural Programming and the academic committee of Student Congress are working together to sponsor a book drive that will benefit children living in Rhode Island. The books will be donated to Books Are Wings, a not-for-profit literacy organization that works in Rhode Island.
The book drive kicked off this past Tuesday at the African American Read-In, an event that multiple colleges and universities across the country participate in, which highlights African American authors, poets, and leaders.
Elizett Pires, the assistant director of student activities and cultural programming, explained she had participated in the read-in during her own undergraduate experience, and was excited to showcase African American authors and put books with an emphasis on multicultural stories in the hands of Rhode Island’s youth.
“When underrepresented groups see themselves in their leaders or materials they are reading, they develop a stronger connection to reading,” said Pires. “When you are more connected to what you are reading, you are more willing to read.” Pires, who worked with literacy programs during her time on Americorps, went onto explain that research shows that students who fail to meet their reading level at the third grade are four times more likely to not complete high school, and therefore getting books into the hands of children is very important.
“Having access to books and literature is easy to take for granted,” said Gabi Dess ’18, chair of the academics committee on student congress. “Not everyone has the opportunity to purchase books and it is awesome that we can collect books and donate them to our surrounding community.”
The academics committee has sponsored their own book drive for the past two previous years, and is excited to collaborate with the Office of Student Activities and Cultural Programming and Books Are Wings. Paige Clausius-Parks ’03, an alumna of Providence College, works with Books Are Wings and is also excited to collaborate with the College.
The book drive, taking place this February, coincides with Books Are Wings’ March Reading Madness program. During the program, the organization will visit schools in Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls, and students will be invited to bring the donated books home with them.
Pires explained she is hoping PC students can be part of this event. “Something I asked myself was how can PC benefit the community,” she said, and went on to say that this Book Drive will do just that.
The campus community is invited to donate books with multicultural stories, and they will be collected at the Office of Student Activities and Cultural Programming until spring break. “Kids look up to the leaders that they see and read about, so it is important that they have access to these characters in stories and leaders in real life,” said Dess.
The book drive and read-in are part of a month’s worth of events celebrating black history. Pires explained she’s excited to contribute, especially in regards to bringing more events celebrating Black History Month to campus. “It’s great to celebrate the history, as well to get people to think a little bit more,” she said.
Other events that will be occurring this month include the Marshall movie screening, the Black History Mobile Museum, the Black Panther Gala, and a performance by the ZuZu African Acrobats.
Donations via Venmo will also be accepted, and those donations will be used to purchase more books for the book drive. “Reading helps to foster education,” said Dess. “It encourages children to continue their academic pursuits, and follow their dreams.”