Six Terrebonne Parish Elementary Schools celebrated Christmas a bit early this year – well not really. But I’m sure teachers, students and parents felt that way.
Thanks to Frank and Karen Ball, natives of Terrebonne Parish who now live in Santa Clarita, CA, over 97,000 books have been donated to the Rita-damaged schools. As mentioned above, The Santa Clarita Valley Disaster Coalition shipped 97,000 elementary school library books on a Camelot Moving & Storage truck on Friday, May 5. The books will be distributed to Dularge Elementary, Dularge Middle, Grand Caillou Elementary, Grand Caillou Middle and Little Caillou Elementary.
The “Flood of Books” 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. According to Ball, the drive also raised $13,500, and about 85,000 books points from Scholastic that can be traded for books. The city of Santa Clarita donated $10,000 of the $13,500 mentioned above. “A special thanks to Carl Goldman and The Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition for their efforts and for making this all possible. My wife Karen Borowski Ball and I are from Houma and we were just amazed at the support we received from the people in Santa Clarita, Ca. Karen is a teacher here in California and she helped get all the school boards in Santa Clarita involved in the Book Flood,” said Ball.
“I actually went to school at Dularge Elementary in the 6th and 7th grade so this really had a special meaning for me. I have lots of relatives and friends from the area and we wanted to do whatever we could to help out,” added Ball. “Our initial goal was to reach 20,000 books,” said 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 37 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.” Added Coalition member Diane Green: “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 saying, ‘From your friends in the Santa Clarita Valley,’ with room for donors to write in their names. It just kept snowballing.”
There were so many that helped and each had their own personal reason. But, according to Green, a local Math teacher, Mrs. Erum Jones, especially touched the hearts of organizers. When she learned about the book-drive, she joined the effort to collect books as a way of honoring the memory of her daughter
Dayne that died 10 years ago when she was 2 days old. Her daughter would have been 10 years old this month, and an elementary school student.
She and her Math classes collected 1,500 school books and created special labels for each book dedicated to the loving memory of her daughter Dayne. “The Junior ROTC from Valencia High School sent 16 cadets over and they helped us sort, count and box up the books for two days,” Goldman said.
“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.”
“As more people learned about the project, they wanted to join in with the Coalition,” Green said. “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 who had relocated to Santa Clarita. The JBA has 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 an extension of the
Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging, a non-profit corporation and Coalition charter member. The SCVCOA provides fiscal oversight that allows donors of good or services to the Coalition to get a tax deduction for their charitable contributions.
“Coalition members are all volunteers and everything is donated by them and their companies and organizations,” Goldman said. “It’s a powerful group. Membership also includes the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and Valencia Acura, which 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.”
More photos will be available at http://www.scvcoalition.com/