What began as a third-grade study unit on “giving back” turned into a long-term, hands-on project for students at Mechanics Grove School that netted more than 1,000 books and nearly $300 for children in Central America.
It all started in November when Belize librarian Lusiola Castillo, a friend of MG Teacher Farida Matias, came to visit Mundelein. She spoke to third-graders about her country and their need for more books.
In January, when third-graders began studying a unit on “Global Issues and Giving Back,” their teachers, Farida, along with Janice Clow, Cristina Pepe, Carmen Flores, didn’t have to look for a way to bring the lesson to life.
The teachers decided their students could put “giving back” into action by helping collect books and raise money to ship them internationally. Because the third-graders had met Castillo and heard in-person about the need for books in Belize, they were all-in to help.
From the beginning, students dedicated themselves to the task. They raised money for books by creating bookmarks, key chains, bracelets and balloon squishies out of paper and other household materials, then selling them to teachers and fellow students.
The students then promoted book donations by creating flyers and writing letters to the school librarian. As part of an assignment, they wrote a letter of opinion to their parents explaining why we should donate books to the children of Belize.
By the time the project was done the students had collected 14 boxes of books and raised $285 for transportation to Belize. The boxes of books were loaded into a truck at the school March 18. They will be moved to Miami via train and then put on a barge bound for Central America. Matias has asked her friend to take the books to the smallest villages in Belize where the books are most needed.