Sixty-four Airmen from the Desert Lightning Team assisted First Book Tucson with unloading approximately 40,000 books at the Bookman’s warehouse in Tucson, Ariz., April 2.
First Book Tucson began in 2008 and is one of 150 First Books around the U.S. Their mission is to give children in Tucson from low-income families the opportunity to read their very own books.
Airmen unloaded, sorted and stacked books for children from pre- kindergarten to high school.
“When we got here, all the books were packed up,” said Staff Sgt. Brianna Riedel, 25th Operational Weather Squadron weather forecaster. “We opened all the boxes, unpacked all the books and then started organizing them against the walls in piles base on the titles, so that people can sort them even further tomorrow.”
First Book Tucson won these books by participating in a First Book National contest.
“We’ve never had an event like this before,” said Tami Arthur, First Book Tucson’s grants/events chair. “We participated in a First Book National contest. Each organization needed to sign up at least 300 groups from around the state in a four month period. So, as a thank you to all those who participated and signed up, we are holding this distribution event for them.”
As a result, each teacher should receive 130 books for their students.
Arthur stated the premise of First Book is to always give children their own books. The books are never given to a library or a teacher to keep in the classroom. If teachers or libraries would like books for themselves, they can purchase them through the marketplace on the First Book Tucson website.
Approximately 6,600 children will be receiving a book throughout Tucson, and the majority will be from lower-income families.
“That’s the criteria,” Arthur said. “At least 70 percent of the children we serve are at or below the poverty level.”
Mary Harvey, First Book Tucson chair, stated that military children and schools are also allowed to participate.
“Military children are eligible, whether they are low income or not,” Harvey said. “We have not reached out to military children or schools before, however, we would like to partner with them. Military members can join First Book, and they can purchase books and ask for grants. They can apply through us.”
For further information, check out www.facebook.com/FirstBookTucson. To register for books, log onto www.firstbook.org/tucson. If you have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.