BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Even with the passionate dedication of our educators here in Kern County, some students in our underprivileged communities do not achieve reading proficiency by the third grade.
23ABC wanted to help, and that starts with putting books right into their hands.
"So we've had a lot of kids that we've noticed are a little bit behind in their reading, so this is an awesome opportunity to give those kids a little bit of a push. They may not have access to books at their house, so if they don't, bam! Here we go," said Fabian Perezarce, librarian at Mount Vernon Elementary.
In August, 23ABC's Elaina Rusk collected donations from employees who pledged portions of their paychecks to this campaign.
The Scripps Howard Foundation then matched our donation doubling the amount.
We opened the fundraising to the public and many of you generously contributed to our campaign as well.
We then got a gracious discount from Scholastic, helping us buy even more books.
In the end, we had so much money raised, we were able to host an entire surprise Scholastic Book fair.
23ABC choose Mount Vernon Elementary for our giveaway this year, and we were thrilled to be able to provide not just one, but two books for each of their 615 students in attendance.. Even those who are learning virtually this year.
"As a kid I loved going to the book fair, and so that's really exciting to see my students love that. And you know, it's hard to see sometimes when kids don't have money to buy books and we still go as a class they're sad because they don't get to get any materials. So it's really exciting that each of my students is going to be able to get those two books, and we're very appreciative," said Joie Garcia, fourth grade teacher at Mount Vernon Elementary.
"What a special gift that is to our students! I personally would love to get two free books! And I think most of us would. So we are really delighted and grateful for this opportunity to go to the book fair today," said Kindergarten teacher Mary Dundas.
We had enough leftover to pull an additional 185 books to leave with the classrooms and library.
That's a total of 1,415 books.
Adhering to social distancing, each class went to the library one by one throughout the week, and each child was able to choose the two titles that appealed to them: A cover with a character who looked like them, a title that made them want to turn the pages, or stories written in Spanish.
And it doesn't end there. We gave the remainder of our donation to the Kern Literacy Council to assist their programs for another year.