A Different Kind of Christmas

This year, instead of exchanging our usual amount of gifts, our family adopted a charter school in Durham, NC which didn't have a library.  The school, Reaching All Minds Academy (RAM), has grades K-3, and when it opened last August, only 25 of the 122 students in the school could read.  The staff has been working diligently to remedy the situation, and now, 5 months later, 40% of the students are reading at or above grade level.  That's remarkable progress, and they know there's much more work to do, and we all decided to assist in that effort. 

Our Wake County Library has a huge yearly book sale, around Christmastime, where thousands of books are made available to the public at extremely discounted prices.  So, Melanie and I got up early on the Saturday morning of the sale, and ventured out to see if we could find enough books to stock the RAM library. Knowing there were 122 students, we were excited by the prospect of giving a book to each student to keep, and we were also looking for reference books for the library, including multicultural, science, math, and history titles.  We split up, gathered books, and came back together to see what we'd chosen.  Amazingly, we had almost no duplicates, and we'd fulfilled our lists pretty well.  That day, all books for children were $1, including dictionaries, atlases and large picture books...a great deal!  We filled 6 large boxes.  Included were many of our sons' favorites, and we loved reminiscing about reading to them, and having the boys read to us, oh so many years ago (Melanie's twins Cameron and Colin are 26, and my son Jordan is 21).  We loaded up my SUV, and on the way home, began talking about how great it would be to REALLY stock the library.  And, though we were pretty exhausted from our 5 hours of choosing books, we couldn't resist the allure of Sunday's pricing:  boxes of books, no matter how many:  $5.  We returned to the sale on Sunday, stood in a long line, gathered even more books (including a few for ourselves), and ended up with over 300 books!

On Christmas day, everyone pitched in to categorize and wrap books.  Jordan designed a bookplate with the RAM logo, and we placed one in each book for a student to keep.  Thinking the  children would love opening a surprise, we gift wrapped the kindergarten and first grade books, then ran out of energy!  We agreed the older kids would probably prefer choosing their own books (which was also a way NOT to have to wrap about 60 more books), and we all enjoyed this fun day of sharing, stories, and more reminiscing about favorites.  Colin, who is a filmmaker, shot this video of us around our dining room table having a great time! 


Last week, Melanie and I delivered the books to RAM, and there were excited squeals, big smiles, choruses of "Thank You," and happy faces all around when the children unwrapped their books. I explained about the bookplate, the first graders busily wrote their names in their books, and began to read. We visited the two kindergarten classes next, and watched as they too eagerly opened the books and sat down to read.  The grand opening of library was scheduled for the next morning, and everyone would see Colin's video as part of the program.  Unfortunately, neither Melanie nor I could be there for it, but we heard it was a rousing success.

So, that was Christmas 2014 for the Davis/Jones/Holmes/Petelinz family.  We loved this project; having everyone involved, sharing time together on Christmas day, laughing (lots of it!), remembering when the boys were learning to read, and knowing that what we would have spent on gifts for each other was used to give the wondrous gift of reading...what could be better than that? 
'Wonder what we'll do next year?  


You're AWESOME...yep you and you're whole family, just awesome!

Anyway, I thought I'd let you know, also, that your video is set to private, and I can't view it.

You're your..yes I know...ugh..I'm TARD!
Michelle said…
Thanks so much, Debbie! Thanks too, for the heads up about the video...I didn't realize the setting was private, so I've changed it. You should be able to see it now...as you can tell, we had a blast!
See you soon, I hope. :-)
Jeanne Rhea said…
Beautiful! What a great idea!
Michelle said…
Thank you, Jeanne. As you can tell, we had a great time doing it.