This is Bergan (right). She’s a PR professional, mom and tireless community servant. Among her many volunteer projects, she helped launch a book fair at J.J. “Jake” Pickle Elementary, named for her grandfather, former U.S. Congressman (is it any wonder that community service is in her DNA?).
Pickle Elementary is a dual language school that serves primarily Hispanic families in the St. John neighborhood of Austin. Most students and their parents do not speak English at home. The kids are thirsty for knowledge, and reading outside of school plays an important role in their communication and school success.
In 2007, Bergan and her Sunday school class at First United Methodist Church started a book fair to distribute new and gently used books to students at Pickle Elementary. They hold the book fair twice a year and sell books for 25 cents each (at the school’s request).
Students bring quarters in ziplock bags, and often give to those without. Many teachers come with money to buy one book for each child so no one walks away empty-handed. “Sometimes kids argue for a split second about who is going to get a certain book,” said Bergan. “But then they find a book that suits them best and walk down the hall with it clutched to their chest like a prize.”
In 10 years, the team of five to ten FUMC volunteers has worked with four principals and three librarians to distribute more than 21,000 books. They are now getting plugged into other projects at Pickle including teacher appreciation, landscaping and tutoring.
They can always use donations of new and gently used books, (especially Spanish books for the pre-K and kindergarteners), so whenever I clean out our own book collection I give Bergan a call. There’s nothing better than picking up a favorite children’s book to read again and again, and I’m glad these kids can find their own favorites to love.