By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — Bethel Grade School was the winner of a recent competitive book drive held locally by the Career Development Center in Fairfield.
As part of the drive, Bethel faced off against Summersville Grade School to determine which school could collect the most books to be recycled.
Together, both schools collected a total of 2,325 pounds of books during the three weeks of the contest.
Bethel collected 1,345 pounds of books at an average of 8.51 pounds per student. Summersville's total was 980 pounds at an average of 3.76 pounds per student.
Dottie Johnson, eighth grade home room teacher at Bethel, said the drive gave the school a convenient way to get rid of unwanted workbooks. Also, the contest sparked a great deal of participation from students, parents and the general public, she said.
“It got the entire community involved,” Johnson said.
Summersville Superintendent Mark Zahm also praised the book drive program.
“It worked out well. We were happy,” Zahm said. “We could easily do that once or twice a year.”
The Career Development Center is a sheltered workshop that provides work for people with intellectual disabilities. The organization also runs the Wayne County Recycling Center.
The Battle of the Books Book Drive lasted from late April to mid May. During the contest, the CDC placed recycling bins at the two schools where students, faculty and the public could drop off books, magazines or similar items.
Each week of the contest, CDC officials collected the items from the bins. The books were then taken to the center and prepared for recycling by individuals with intellectual disabilities. After that, the books were sent off to be recycled.
Programs like this not only give work to individuals at the center but also help reduce landfill waste, which is a significant problem, said Carrie Halbert, human resources manager for the CDC.
Zahm added it's important to teach students about recycling and other alternatives to throwing books away. For example, the books may be of use to someone else, he said.
“That's a great thing to teach a child,” Zahm said.
This was the first time the CDC held a book drive in Jefferson County, but organizers intend to make the program an annual occurrence.
“We'd like all the grade schools in Jefferson County to participate eventually,” Halbert said.
By the end of the summer, CDC officials hope to open a satellite facility in Jefferson County, Halbert said.
Also, the CDC will soon be placing recycling collection containers in the 42nd Street, Times Square Mall area of Mt. Vernon.
For winning the book drive, Bethel students each received a free mini-pizza donated by Godfather's Pizza at Huck's in Mt. Vernon.
Johnson said Bethel Grade School may start its own recycling program in the near future.