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Maryville High School is taking donations for an upcoming launch of its bookshelf gifting program that gives free books to high schoolers who love to read.

Spoofhound Bookshelf is a new book gifting program at Maryville High School that provides reading books to interested high school students throughout the school year. The program is a dual effort between Maryville High School Liberian Kimberly Offutt and parent Kelley Baldwin.

“It will provide free reading books to interested high school students throughout the school year, so they can begin or build upon their own home libraries,” Baldwin said. “The program is open to any student, regardless of family income.”

With the first order of 200 books placed, Offutt said that they are looking to open the Spoofhound Bookshelf in January or February some time next year.

“It’s something positive to look forward to and would never be possible without Kelley Baldwin and all our supporters,” Offutt said. “Kids do still love to read. It may look different than it did 20 or more years ago, but they are reading.”

The idea for the Spoofhound Bookshelf was inspired by the Scholastic Books Program of gifting books for younger readers.

“I was surprised that I couldn’t find an established program that benefits older students of all socio-economic levels. There are programs out there that benefit younger readers or lower-income students, but it was difficult to find anything that extended past the eighth grade year,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said that she was frustrated with her situation until she realized the opportunity that was offered.

“Hey, this is kind of a good thing,” Baldwin said. “We’re starting from scratch, and we can make this program anything we want it to be. We aren’t bound by any expectations. There’s a certain freedom in that and a lot of fun.”

One of the goals that they have for the program is to help students build up their home libraries, one book at a time.

“Plus, with more books in the home, they can also be used by siblings, parents and anyone else interested in reading,” Offutt said

The project is focused on fundraising for the program. The Spoofhound Bookshelf is asking private individuals to donate and are researching applicable grant opportunities. It also plans to ask local organizations for their support.

“We’d like to create online wish lists through retailers like Amazon where people can purchase and donate specific books chosen for the program,” Baldwin said.

The number of books the school can distribute at the beginning of the launch will depend on student interest level and how many books are available.

“Our target distribution is one book for each interested student every month,” Baldwin said. “It’s a lofty goal but a laudable one.”

The school library is creating space in one of the library’s back room to house the books for the time being, until they find a permanent home with students that will enjoy reading that book.

“It’s the perfect spot to keep the books lined up and ready to be browsed by students,” Offutt said.

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