- Dec 4, 2008Here's an article about Leslie Rucker, a teacher in Merced who held a
book drive for her daughter, who is serving in Namibia. The book drive
was so successful, the family is now wondering how to ship 2,000 books
to Africa. If any RPCVs have experience shipping books, I'm sure Leslie
would appreciate knowing about organizations that help. They are
currently bagging the books up to ship via USPS M-bags. You can email
Leslie at lrucker@...
MERCED SUN-STAR Dec. 3, 2008
Teacher's book drive benefits from students' love of giving
The focus now is how to get all the donations shipped to Africa
By CORINNE REILLY
When first-grade teacher Leslie Rucker launched a used book drive at
Chenoweth Elementary School last month to help kids in Africa, she
reckoned she'd be lucky to get a few hundred donations.
"If anything I figured our problem would be a lack of a response," said
Rucker, who has taught in Merced for nearly two decades.
Rucker was wrong. A week after the drive began, Chenoweth students had
answered her call with nearly 1,000 books. Now, with more than 2,000
piled up in her living room, Rucker is facing a different problem: how
to pay to ship more than 800 pounds of books halfway around the world.
"It's overwhelming, but in a good way," she said Tuesday. "It's a
problem we're happy to have."
Rucker conceived the book drive with her 26-year-old daughter, Amanda. A
Chenoweth graduate herself, Amanda is now living in Namibia, Africa,
where she's been working as a Peace Corps volunteer for the past year.
Rucker hopes to mail the books to her daughter in January, when the new
school year begins in Africa. Amanda will then deliver them to several
schools in Outjo, a city of about 5,000 people 250 miles from Africa's
"The idea was to donate a few books to a couple schools to help kids
there learn English," Rucker said. "We thought it would be a good way to
help children there, but also to teach our own students about giving."
And give they did. Some students came with grocery bags full of books.
One kindergartner filled his backpack so heavily with donations that it
ripped on his way to school, Rucker recalled.
"We only sent home one little note asking for books, and we got all
this," she said. "Students are still coming in with them."
Rucker thought she and her husband could cover the postage. But as the
books started adding up, so did the shipping price. The post office has
estimated the cost to mail all the books at $3,500, and Chenoweth is now
looking for donations to help cover the expense.
"We're hoping to get a few larger donations to keep things simple, but
we'll take any help we can get," Rucker said. She and her husband have
already started reaching out to a few local organizations.
Tara Bright, Chenoweth's principal, said she thinks the book drive has
given her students a new appreciation for education. "I think they're
seeing that a lot of people in the world don't have books, and they're
lucky to be in a positive to give," she said. Rucker agrees. "There's
more to education than test scores," she said. "I think our students
learned a lot from this."
To help Chenoweth mail the books to Africa, contact the school at (209)
385-6620, or call Leslie Rucker at (209) 383-3616.
Nathan Hale Sargent
Public Affairs Specialist
Peace Corps San Francisco Regional Office
(510) 452-8441 fax
(Peace Corps Volunteer: Armenia 1998-2000)
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