Utah Guard Donates Books to

Salt Lake's Parkview Elementary

 

Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published February 8, 2006

 

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Parkview Elementary in Salt Lake City received more than 400 donated books from the Utah National Guard Jan. 26.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

Parkview Elementary in Salt Lake City received more than

400 donated books from the Utah National Guard Jan. 26.

SALT LAKE CITY Smiles and giggles were everywhere at Salt Lake’s Parkview Elementary when the Utah National Guard delivered more than 400 donated books there Jan. 26.

And it wasn’t just the students and faculty who were happy that clear winter morning. Utah Guard employees who collected, sorted and boxed the books were also on hand to see schoolchildren’s reaction to the new additions to the library’s inventory.

“Seeing the kids so happy to receive these books, it made me want to cry,” said Elaine Gomez .

Gomez, a Construction Facility Management Office (CFMO) accounting technician, is too modest to take any credit for the final result, but she was one of the driving forces behind the project.

CFMO employees Mary Beverly, left, Lt. Col. Jerry Oyler, center, and Elaine Gomez pack books for delivery to Parkview Elementary.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

CFMO employees Mary Beverly, left, Lt. Col. Jerry Oyler, center, and Elaine Gomez pack books for delivery to Parkview Elementary.

In October when CFMO employees discussed ideas for their annual Christmas service project, Gomez suggested a book drive to benefit students at a local elementary school,  and she knew just which school should get the books.

Gomez called close friend Stephanie Young, a fifth-grade teacher at Parkview to see if the school was interested. They were, but not necessarily just to benefit the students.

Parkview, one of the newer elementary schools on the west side of Salt Lake, has students who speak 14 different native languages. Their parents, many of whom are immigrants to the U.S., speak little or no English. Young suggested that Parkview students could use donated books to take home to read to their parents and help moms and dads achieve a better grasp of the language of their adoptive country.

Young cleared the idea with Principal Janine Smith, and CFMO employees set to work getting approval from Utah Guard Adjutant General Brian Tarbet.

Parkview Principal Janine Smith accepts the donation of books Jan. 26 from Lt. Col. Jerry Oyler of the Utah National Guard.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

Parkview Principal Janine Smith accepts the donation of books

 Jan. 26 from Lt. Col. Jerry Oyler of the Utah National Guard.

Traditionally, CFMO’s Christmas projects were limited to its own employees, but the scope of the undertaking made it a no-brainer to open it up to any employee working in the Draper complex. Tarbet agreed and CFMO employees placed a drop box in the sports court area to collect books.

Dr. Seuss, Encyclopedia Brown, Goosebumps and The Great Brain were among the hundreds of new and gently used titles provided by generous civilian and military employees for the project.

“The response was really overwhelming,” said Lt. Col. Jerry Oyler, deputy director of CFMO. “I went through our own library of children’s books at home to find some to donate, and it brought back a lot of memories.”

Books were collected through Christmas, and CFMO employees spent a few days in their spare time during January sorting and boxing the books for delivery.

CFMO employees Oyler, Gomez, and Mary Beverly went to the school to formally present books to Principal Smith and Parkview students.

Students from Stephanie Young's fifth-grade class look over the new additions to the Parkview library, courtesy of the Utah National Guard.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

Students from Stephanie Young's fifth-grade class look over the new additions to the Parkview library, courtesy of the Utah National Guard.

Young brought her fifth-graders to the library to meet National Guard members in person and see the books they brought.

 “Many of our students have never met a Soldier, so it was neat for them to see that they worked so hard to get these books for us,” said Young. “I think it was a powerful experience for them to meet people from the community who care about them.”

As students picked through the books placed on tables in the school library, their excitement was evident.

“This is cool!” said one student.

“I’m going to take some home to read to my parents,” said another.

Smith, a teacher for 30 years and principal at Parkview for the past three, was touched both by the gift and how students took to the new books.

“Reading is the foundation of everything we do,” said Smith. “Children who read at home every night are more successful in school.”

“These books are just one more tool we have to help families. If we can hook one more family because of what the National Guard has done for us, that’s great,” Smith added.

As the event came to a close and Gomez watched students leave the library, she was left almost without words.

“I was pleased to be a part of this. It was very rewarding,” said Gomez.

A tile mosaic of of Parkview student and faculty self-portraits in the school's entryway.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

A tile mosaic of of Parkview student

and faculty self-portraits in the school's entryway.

The Parkview marquee expressing thanks to the Utah National Guard for its donation of books to the school.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

The Parkview marquee expressing thanks to the

Utah Guard for its donation of books to the school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sgt. Kelly Collett, Utah National Guard, finds a book on his reading level at Parkview Elementary.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

Sgt. Kelly Collett, Utah National Guard, finds a

book on his reading level at Parkview Elementary.

Fifth-grade teacher Stephanie Young's tile self-portrait in the hallway mosaic at Parkview Elementary.

Photo by Spc. Samantha Xanthos

Fifth-grade teacher Stephanie Young's tile self-portrait

 in the hallway mosaic at Parkview Elementary.