Hampton Township School District reading initiative honors Sandy Hook students

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 10:11 p.m.

Groups around the world are joining in an effort to share the gift of reading with a child in honor of the students who were just learning to read at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Hampton Township School District and community members are showing their support of the Newtown, Conn., community after the school shooting in December by collecting children's books through Sunday, Feb. 10, to donate to the high school's child-development class preschool program.

The collection is part of the We Can Read! initiative created by Slippery Rock University assistant professor Alice Del Vecchio along with the university's Student Nonprofit Alliance to encourage people to purchase a book, read it to a child and donate it to a school, child-care center or child-serving organization in their community.

“That was such a terrible day. It bothered me a lot,” said Mary Beth Orbin, Hampton High School librarian who organized Hampton's collection. “It was the least I could do.”

Orbin said she was “just a pair of hands” to organize the collection and has been touched by the community's support. Children's books have been brought in by teachers, staff, students, the student council, Rotary Interact club members and people in the community and line the top of the shelves of the high school's library.

“I think every book that shows up comes from somebody's heart,” Orbin said.

“I hope they read it to a child or grandchild. It's not the number (of books collected), it's the sentiment.”

This week, Orbin will deliver the books to the child-development classroom down the hall for the preschool students.

Melinda Jackson, family and consumer science teacher, said the books are a welcome gift to the program.

“It will be a great benefit to us to get all the books,” Jackson said. “We have a lot of outdated items, so it will be nice to have new resources.”

The Hampton High School students, who teach the preschool classes three days a week, read at least two books each day as part of the lesson plan.

“The variety (of books) allows us to incorporate more themes and ideas,” Jackson said.

The books Hampton Township School District and the community collect also will be shared with the students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary in the form of a Valentine's Day card, which Del Vecchio will send with the We Can Read! book collection totals.

“My hope would be that they know we think about them every day,” Orbin said. “They're in our thoughts and prayers.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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