Summer’s fingers fluttered across the covers of the books piled on the low table at the Sanford Street School, her face was furrowed with concentration. It was clear that the second grader, who was all dressed up in a pearly pink dress, wanted to choose just the right book for the school’s holiday book event. Finally, with all the certainty of a shopper who has made the right call in a crowded mall on Christmas Eve, she tucked a copy of Major Makes History under her arm and headed for the reading room.
On Monday, the Sanford Street School Holiday Book Project, distributed hundreds of books to Summer and other eager students just in time for the holidays. The event also gave students the opportunity to select and wrap a book to give to a sibling as a holiday gift.
“Our students don’t have much so I like them to have something they can call their own,” said Cindy Goodsell, secretary at Sanford Street and a member of the Saratoga Adirondack BOCES Employees Association. “They were thrilled to be able to take something home that they had picked out for someone else, too,” she said. Goodsell, who helped organize the event, also knitted dozens of winter hats for the students to choose from.
Books for the event were collected at the 44th annual SRP Leadership Conference in November, SRP At-large Director Sandie Carner-Shafran said it was great to see the students enjoy the books with such relish. “Books need to be in the hands of children, and it was the perfect time to spread the joy of reading,” Carner-Shafran said. “Our NYSUT SRPs are so generous every year and our communities benefit from that and their continued advocacy for our schools.”
Sanford Street is a school for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities in grades K-6. Located in Glens Falls, the school is just one division of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, which serves 31 school districts across five counties.
Students also enjoyed refreshments and holiday stories with NYSUT Second Vice President Ron Gross and his wife, Wendy, who read aloud from There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell, Sneezy the Snowman and Jingle Bells.
“This event was so meaningful to us because reading has always been part of our holiday traditions,” said Ron Gross. “Books can take you anywhere, and I want to thank our NYSUT SRPs for sharing that special gift with these students.”
This event was part of NYSUT’s larger partnership with AFT and Reading Opens the World, and event organizers hope it will help students and families foster an ongoing love of reading. To date, NYSUT members have helped distribute more than 100,000 books to students.