The Santa Clarita Valley Disaster Coalition sent 97,000 elementary school library books on a Camelot Moving Truck on Friday, headed for Houma, Louisiana, a town hit hard by Hurricane Rita. The books will restock six elementary school libraries in Houma.
The drive, spearheaded by KHTS Radio, The Santa Clarita Senior Center, The City of Santa Clarita, The Sulphur Springs Elementary School District, College of the Canyons, The Signal, The Santa Clarita Interfaith Council, Remax and others was a phenomenal success.
“Our goal was to reach 20,000 books,” stated Carl Goldman, President of the Coalition. “We were able to get all four Santa Clarita Elementary School Districts involved, (Sulphur Springs, Newhall, Saugus & Castaic), that’s thirty seven schools. Some private schools, like Pinecrest joined in, then a number of the High Schools and College of the Canyons got involved. It just kept growing.”
Coalition member Diane Green added, “So many others pitched in to help. The City let us stage the books in the old Santa Clarita Chamber offices. The Junior Blind of America in Los Angeles heard what we were doing and donated approximately 4,000 books in Braille and large print. All American Marketing donated 20,000 stickers, ‘from your friends in the Santa Clarita Valley,’ with room for donors to write in their names. It just kept snowballing.”
Goldman stated, “The Junior ROTC from Valencia High School sent sixteen cadets over and they helped us sort, count and box up the books for two days. On Monday and Tuesday, KHTS AM-1220 will broadcast interviews from Houma, as the books arrive and are distributed to six schools.”
Houma, Louisiana was spared the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Located about fifty miles south of New Orleans, the town became a refuge for Katrina victims. When Hurricane Rita hit, a six to eight-foot wall of salt water swept through the community, destroying much in its wake, including library books.
In addition to the 97,000 books, we are donating over $13,500.00 as a credit at Borders Books, Valencia so the six Houma schools can fill in gaps that aren’t covered with the 100,000 books. Borders is contributing a little over 20% to assist.
“It is such an amazing feeling,” added Sharon Bronson, a coalition member and KHTS station manager. “Santa Clarita residents, Frank and Karen Ball are from Houma, that’s the connection. They flew to Houma to meet the truck and assist with the book distribution. They’ll be e-mailing us pictures and doing on-air interviews as the books arrive. We’ll be posting the pictures and interviews on our website, www.hometownstation.com.
“This was truly a team effort,” said coalition member, Adele Macpherson and Community Services Superintendent for the City of Santa Clarita. “So many organizations participated. Friends of the Library donated books they didn’t sell during their book drive. It’s just another example of how our Valley can work together and support one another. We had high school kids boxing up books through the Junior ROTC, alongside Seniors from the Santa Clarita Senior center. Our hope is that if another disaster strikes our area, other communities will assist us in the same way we’re pitching in.”
Diane Green added, “As more people learned about the project, they wanted to join in with the coalition. The Junior Blind of America in Los Angeles, made a substantial monetary contribution to our coalition earlier this year because of the non-profit work we were doing helping Hurricane evacuees, here in Santa Clarita. They have since become a member of our coalition, and they were eager to participate in the book-drive and donate materials to serve the needs of the visually impaired students in the Houma area. The donated Braille and large print books came from all over the state of California.”
The Santa Clarita Valley Disaster Coalition is now a permanent organization. “The beauty of the coalition is we have absolutely no overhead,” stated Carl Goldman. “Everything is donated by the organizations involved in the coalition. It’s a powerful group. Membership also includes the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and Valencia Acura, who I didn’t mention earlier. During an emergency, we can be there behind the first response groups filling in gaps they aren’t able to handle. It’s truly a tremendous resource for our community and very unique. I don’t know of anything else quite like it anywhere else in our country.”
Those wishing more information can log onto www.scvcoalition.com, or call the Santa Clarita disaster coalition at KHTS radio at 661 298-1220.