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Book drive helps area kids

We’ve always believed that books make great Christmas gifts for children, and we’re pleased to see that an effort designed to put books in the hands of a lot of deserving youngsters has returned for the second year.

The Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Denton has partnered with Communities in Schools of North Texas to host its Holiday Book Drive, which encourages customers to purchase and donate books to benefit Denton County students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Kathleen Schaefer, store manager, said customers are encouraged to purchase anything ranging from their favorite childhood books to popular new titles for donation to children assisted by Communities in Schools of North Texas.

“For us, there’s nothing more exciting [than] to put a book into the hands of children and see their face light up,” Schaefer said. “We’re excited about the ability to work with a group like this.”

Communities in Schools works with at-risk students at 35 schools across Denton and Wise counties, offering dropout-prevention and after-school programs. Of the students who benefit from the assistance, 4,300 live in Denton County, said Ann Pape, the organization’s chief development officer.

She said Communities in Schools appreciates having Barnes & Noble as a partner.

“We’re so happy they share our mission to help children stay in school, graduate and achieve in life,” Pape said.

The Holiday Book Drive has been a corporate-sponsored event for about 15 years, said Linda Germain, national business development manager with Barnes and Noble Inc. Annually for the past five years, more than 1 million books have been donated each year to children in need, she said. Each individual store selects local organizations the drive will benefit.

“At the end of the day, it’s really about getting books into the hands of the kids,” Germain said.

Children love books, which not only make great gifts but also meet a need, Pape told us.

“A lot of our kids, they come from low-income families, and having a book is wonderful for them, especially for our kids who are learning to read and trying to master their reading skills. It’s just a wonderful thing to have a book in the home.”

The book drive continues at the Denton store through Dec. 31, Schaefer said. Kickoff events for the drive will take place at 11 a.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Dec. 1.

The store collected 1,800 donated books last year and is looking to double contributions with this year’s drive, Schaefer said.

Why not plan to add a book or two to the drive total while you’re doing some holiday shopping? It’s an effective way to make a difference in a child’s life.

And that’s a great way to celebrate the holidays.