Communications class collect books for Clarinda Academy

Student’s from Northwest’s Small Group Communications class are collecting books on campus until Dec. 7 to be donated to at-risk students attending the Clarinda Academy in Clarinda, Iowa.

While some people take for granted the education they’re provided through teachers and textbooks, there are many students who don’t have easy access to resources like a simple book.

Every year in Small Group Communications class, which is taught by associate professor of communications John Katsion, a group of students is given either the choice of an academic paper or a service learning project. All have chosen the service learning project since its introduction into the course in 2014.

One group is hosting a book drive for Clarinda Academy, which is a “residential foster care facility that provides residential treatment to at-risk and delinquent male and female youth,” according to the official website. The students have put out donation boxes inside residence halls to begin collecting gently used or new books from Nov. 5 to Dec. 7.

Katsion discussed how these projects help not only the community, but also the students.

“To me, the idea of serving others is the one of the biggest things (they should get), so I want them to not just complete the project, but go out of their way to find a group they can honestly help,” Katsion said.

Group member and sophomore Melanie Wilson came up with the idea after her mom and special education teacher of Clarinda Academy, Jeri Wilson, told her about the difficulties of finding books her students would enjoy.

“My mom told me about an activity she had her students do,” Melanie Wilson said. “She had them make a list of books that they would want to read because she was having a hard time finding stories that everyone in the class wanted to read. I brought it up to my communication group, and we decided to raise funds to get the books on their wish list.”

Through meetings, discussions and planning out different ways to get people to donate, the group started fleshing out their service learning project.

Senior and group member Joshua Smith does have a few worries concerning people donating books.

“A lot of people, including myself, don’t really enjoy reading that much, but I understand the importance of it and how it really helps,” Smith said. “I’m expecting to see more support through the GoFundMe or direct donations.”

The students have created a GoFundMe page in hopes of collecting $150 along with any books donated.

As a teacher, Jeri Wilson understands the impact reading has on people’s lives and explains why donating books is important.

“Many avid readers have a home library or access to a community library. These students do not have the same opportunities,” Jeri Wilson said. “Classrooms need more than textbooks to spark an interest in reading ... Many of these students didn’t have parents or family to read them bedtime stories or even teach them to read or even the need to know how to read. Reading and writing is an essential life skill to have and needs to be nurtured and practiced.”

Jeri Wilson’s goal is to open the world of reading to students and help those needing an education.

“One of these books may be the first word in the right direction,” Jeri Wilson said.

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