Pa., West Baltimore youths benefit from book donations

November 26, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Students at Gilmor Elementary School in West Baltimore received a visit and more than 2,000 books from Gettysburg, Pa., students yesterday.

The books -- most of which will go to the school library -- came from Keefauver Elementary School in Gettysburg as a gift to Gina Ferrarra's third-grade class at Gilmor. Ferrarra attended Keefauver and taught there last year as a substitute.

Jacquie Temple, the third-grade teacher at Keefauver, brought her 22 students to Baltimore to deliver the books, collected as part of The Big Help, a public service project patterned after one featured on the Nickelodeon cable television network.

The project "was an extension of teaching the kids what giving is all about," Temple said.

The donation helps alleviate a shortage of books at Gilmor that had been a problem for Ferrarra, a first-year teacher at the school.

She didn't have enough books for her students to read because she hadn't been teaching long enough to collect children's books for her classroom and the library's resources were limited.

Temple heard of Ferrarra's problem last month through another Keefauver teacher who was a friend of Ferrarra. Ferrarra needed books, and Temple's class needed a service project.

"We needed to do a service project," Temple said. "I presented [the idea] to my class and they sounded very interested."

The idea was to collect one used book from each of the 453 students at Keefauver. Instead of 453 books, however, the class collected nearly five times as many -- the counting stopped at 2,000.

"This sort of fell into my lap," said Ferrarra, who added that her class also was looking for a service project.

But the students from Keefauver didn't travel 90 minutes just to hand over boxes of books.

People from Keefauver and Gilmor said the trip gave students an opportunity to interact with people with whom they ordinarily wouldn't. Most of the students at Keefauver are white, while most of the students at Gilmor are black.

Michael Mojica, 35, who traveled from Gettysburg with his 9-year-old son, Aaron, said he and his family visit Baltimore a few times a year, usually to see the Orioles play.

"I think it's a pretty good idea," Mojica said of the trip."We get to meet different people with different lifestyles. We get to see the difference between the city and where we are."

After a welcoming ceremony, students from Gilmor were matched with "buddies" from Keefauver to escort around the school, eat lunch and read books.

Both schools plan to have Gilmor students make the trip to Keefauver in the spring. Students will exchange correspondence.

"We intend to keep the relationship going between them and their pen pals," Gilmor Principal Phoebe Shorter said. "It's an opportunity to extend the reading and writing on both sides. It's also a chance to find out about different cultures."

Pub Date: 11/26/97

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