GRAND BLANC — Kamal Gupta’s schedule was pretty booked on Thursday, Dec. 3.
That’s the day Gupta, a member of the Rotary Club of Grand Blanc, delivered nearly 500 books to Brendel and McGrath Elementary schools, and Grand Blanc Middle School.
The book donation is part of the Rotary Club’s literacy program. School staff distributed the tomes to students during the food distributions.
“This is wonderful,” said Brendel Principal Doris Goetz. “We know it’s not good for kids to be in front of a screen all the time, and here we are (with virtual instruction). Teachers struggle with it all the time. We want to put books in the students’ hands. Our kids love books. We are creating a love of reading at this school. They’ll be appreciative.”
The Rotarians had intended to distribute the books in March, but the COVID-19 pandemic struck and prompted the closure of the schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.
“The Rotary Literacy Committee met virtually on Monday, Sept. 21, to assess the status of our book giveaway project that had been stalled by the pandemic,” Gupta said. “Our project is just beginning a new phase in which each of the six area clubs work directly with one or more local schools in their area to distribute books to qualifying children.”
The Rotary Clubs obtain the books from the First Book Foundation, a charity that receives publishers’ overstock publications and sells them to organizations that provide books for youngsters who qualify for school lunch programs.
Throughout Genesee County, Rotarians spent $4,000 to purchase 5,000 books. Of those, 480 went to students in Grand Blanc.
“During COVID, with all the meanness in the world, I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have people who have stepped up to help the schools,” said Goetz.
“Everyone always thinks Grand Blanc has everything; we don’t. We have families who really suffer or are struggling. Community involvement is what it takes to make a school.”
“If every child gets a good, quality education, they can get jobs, start their own businesses; they can do anything,” Gupta said. “One of my heroes is Bill Gates, who said people have an obligation to help the needy and the helpless. And, my father taught me, if you can’t give money, give your shoulder or your time.”
Gupta said the clubs expect to donate more books at Eastertime.