Ohio Kiwanians give books to kids

Literacy project helps young students build home libraries.

Story by Julie Saetre

The Kiwanis Club of Boardman-Youngstown in Ohio has long been committed to promoting literacy among children in local communities. So is Shannon Sefcik, who teaches second grade at Harding Elementary School in Youngstown.  

During the pandemic, when all Harding Elementary students were learning virtually, a young boy told Sefcik that he didn’t have any books to read at his home. That remark sparked the idea of launching a book distribution for young students at her school, and she turned to the Boardman-Youngstown Kiwanians for support.  

The Kiwanians responded by creating the Tom Eisenbraun Project. Named after a longtime fellow club member and leader who had recently died, the project funds the purchase of a new book — selected by Sefcik — each month for Harding Elementary students in second through fifth grade. Now that students have returned to the classroom, they first read the monthly selection in class, with Kiwanis club members participating. Then students take the books home to build their personal library collections. 

“The students look forward to me coming around to their classrooms and are so excited to see what the new title is,” Sefcik says. 

This year, from January to May, the Boardman-Youngstown Kiwanians purchased 1,654 books for Harding students. The project has expanded to include Volney Rogers Elementary, also in Youngstown, where students have received 946 books, for a grand total of 2,600 distributed as of October. 

In addition to the Boardman-Youngstown Kiwanis Club, the Community Foundation of Mahoning Valley, the Kiwanis Ohio District and the Eisenbaum family also provided funding for the project. 

“Everyone involved is very pleased to see the children advance their literary education and enjoy reading as a fun and shared family activity,” says Joseph Lyons, president of the Boardman-Youngstown club. 

Adds Sefcik, “The children of Harding absolutely love receiving the books. One student in my classroom this year cried tears of joy when I shared with the class that Kiwanis had purchased the books for them to keep.” 

Leave a Reply

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: