PHARR – More than 50,000 free books were given to Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD students and staff thanks to a partnership with the school district, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), PSJA AFT and non-profit organization First Book on Saturday, Dec. 12.
Nora A. Galvan, PSJA Library Coordinator, was happy to see such a large turnout from the community.
“It was phenomenal, a great success,” Galvan said. “We had more than 3,500 people attend our event and receive books.”
Due to the large amount of books distributed, more than 200 students from PSJA Early College High School, as well as district staff, volunteered during the week to help organize for the event.
Books were available on a first come, first served basis, with PSJA students receiving five free books and registered staff members 25 each.
“This was a great opportunity for our children,” said Melissa Garza, Kinder teacher at Daniel Ramirez Elementary. “I am very excited about my class set. My kids are going to love them.”
According to Delia Ortiz, one of the PSJA AFT organizers and teacher at Kelly-Pharr Elementary, the event took hard work, but promoting literacy in the community was worth it.
“It took us a little of two months to accomplish this great feat of providing 80,000 free books to our community,” said Ortiz. “With all the hard work, support and volunteers we made it possible for our students to build their personal home libraries and encourage literacy.”
Although only 50,000 out of 80,000 books were distributed at the event, the remaining books will be given to other PSJA partnering organizations like La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), PSJA Parental Engagement Program, PSJA area Public Libraries and other community nonprofits.
Delia Ortiz said the book distribution was possible thanks to the collaboration between the organizations.
“PSJA AFT was fortunate to have a partnership with First Book,” said the teacher. “We approached PSJA in order to work in collaboration to bring these free books to our students and were excited to partner with the district on the initiative.”
In addition to the book distribution, five local authors including Gwendolyn Cowgill, Mary Bain, Ana Cavazos, Ruth McCorkle and Melba Sandoval, spoke and read to students at the event thanks to the Sarah Book Publishing Company.
With the success of the event in mind, the Library Coordinator gave special thanks to the PSJA Administration, Board Members, her team of librarians and everyone who helped with the distribution.
“Thank you for helping students at PSJA continue their love of reading,” said Galvan with a smile.