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Jackson Elementary teacher organizes book donation for students

By: Whitney Mayfield/ May 6, 2020

(CHAPEL HILL, TEXAS) Distance learning has not been an easy transition for many of our Chapel Hill students. Many face different circumstances that may inhibit them from doing online work, keeping up with their Jackson Student schooling, or even reading for some. That being said, there is one person within the Chapel Hill district that is doing her part to ensure that many of the students of Jackson Elementary were able to still enjoy reading from home. 

Mrs. Claudia Lyles, a 2nd grade Math and Science teacher at Jackson Elementary, received a text message after Spring Break and the announcement that students would not be returning to the classroom, from a parent of one of her students, asking if her child was required to still be reading from home.

Jackson student Lyles says she quickly responded, “Yes, of course. We want them to keep up with their reading skills so they can move forward and not get behind.”

The parent then responded, “Ok well we will have to buy some more books.”

Lyles says she immediately started thinking about the current situation of the world and how many people it was affecting. Many are without jobs, many working hard to just put food on the table. She questioned what she could do personally to help her kids continue doing something they loved.

 Her initial thought was, “Maybe I can get people to donate books. No, that wouldn’t work because it might not be sanitary to have a bunch of hands on books and distributing them.”

 There must be another way! A safer way. Lyles thought on it, and prayed on it, and came up with a solution.

 “Maybe, instead, books could be ordered and shipped right to the doors of these student,” said Lyles. 

Lyles communicated with Mrs. Clay, the Jackson Elementary Principal, about her thoughts. Clay agreed it was a great idea, so Lyles started to put the plan into motion. She received parental permission from each of her students to purchase books for each child. 

“They all were very excited about it. I asked them what kind of books their kids liked, what topics” said Lyles.

 After getting permission, she then asked some of her friends at Friendly Baptist Church, and family members, if they would be willing to be a donor for a child in her class.

 “Sort of an adopt a child and buy a book kind of thing,” said Lyles.

 She never imagined the generosity that would ensue. She said before she knew it, her entire class was covered. That isn’t all. A friend asked her Sunday school class and they all wanted to do it too. Lyles had enough extra donors to buy books for several students in her co-teacher, Mrs. Ates’, class. Mrs. Ates is also in the process of having donors from her church buy books for the remaining students in her class.

Lyles told each of the donors what books the children were into and says by the next week students in her class were receiving their brand new books on their doorsteps.

“Some of the donors were so excited about it and asking me if they could send more. I, of course, said sure, I know they would love that,” said Lyles.

This is not the first time that Friendly Baptist has helped the children at Jackson Elementary. Every year the church purchases gifts for students and even throws a little party for them around Christmas time. 

“Some of the children had multiple boxes sent to them. They were all excited. Some of the donors really went all out! I expected two or three books and that would have been great. They wrote me saying they had ordered this set of books and that set of books,” said Lyles. 

Lyles said that this sort of book club, she helped get started, has really helped everyone. The kids received books so they could continue reading, the donors were able to help the community which is something they love doing, and it even helped businesses out too by ordering books from them. A win-win for all!

“It’s been a blessing for me, just seeing how excited the kids were and how excited the people were about giving. It couldn’t have happened without them,” said Lyles.

Lyles hopes by sharing this experience that the idea may catch on. She hopes the act of kindness will continue and others may want to purchase books for other students across the district.