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Liberty Middle School Student, Elaine Feaster, is Making the World a Better Place One Book at a Time

September 20, 2017 - Student Success

Thanks to the philanthropic heart of Elaine Feaster, a seventh-grader at Liberty Middle School, students at Foster Elementary now have the opportunity to read over 1,525 books she donated to their media center as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award Project.

Elaine is a cadette Girl Scout in Troop #1247 with a passion for helping kids less fortunate than herself, and that passion is evident through the work she is doing to complete her Silver Award, the second highest award a Girl Scout can achieve. To earn this award, she has to complete over 50 service hours that creates a lasting impact on the community.  

When brainstorming ideas Elaine reflected on her past and she could not help but think about her kindergarten days, learning from her mother and teacher that there are children in school who ask to take classroom books home because they do not have any at home to read. As Elaine got older this thought stuck with her, it was heartbreaking to think others were unable to read any time they want when she has bookcases at home that are overflowing with books full of knowledge.

The focus of her Silver Award was easy: promoting literacy and creating a book drive to give back to children in the community who are less fortunate.

Giving peers easy access to books is near and dear to Elaine’s heart because she understands the importance of reading. When she was in third-grade she was diagnosed with dyslexia, making reading and comprehension a challenge. Despite her struggles she continues to read and enjoys it.

“When speaking to children I tell them, when you can read, you can learn anything! You may not be able to become an astronaut, but you can learn about how to be one through reading,” Elaine said passionately.

In June, Elaine presented her project to The Children's Board of Hillsborough County. She started her book drive at the beginning of July, collecting 200 books through friends and family. She also coordinated and arranged a drop box for book collection at the New Tampa YMCA, helping her collect 1,600 books so far.

Foster Elementary School social worker Karen Francis helped to facilitate the partnership between the school and Elaine. "On behalf of every student at Foster Elementary, I would like to thank Elaine for her passion for reading, her dedication and her kindness. She is a role-model and inspiration to our students!" said Karen.  Jane Feaster (Elaine's mother) and Karen met online when Jane reached out about donating uniforms to students through a neighborhood chat group. They have since formed a friendship based on their passion to support children in need.

On Thursday, February 22nd, with an overwhelming amount of support from the community, Elaine wrapped up her Silver Award by donating over 1,700 books to Edison Elementary (located in Seminole Heights), in memory of her Great-Aunt Linda, who was a teacher at the school for many years, and championed literacy. 

In total, Elaine received and donated over 3,500 books in 7 months- 1,500 to Foster Elementary, and 1,700 to Edison Elementary. In addition, she will be donating 50 middle school level books to her school, Liberty Middle School, for the library and ELA classroom libraries. There were also adult level books, cookbooks, high school math books, potty training books, and parenting books (about 200), which she donated to the Salvation Army. 

Books will also be donated to the PCAT literacy center (the organization Elaine first found when starting her project back in December 2016, which lead her on the path of speaking to the Children’s School Board and sparked the idea for the book donation box at the New Tampa Y). 

A part of the Girl Scout Law is to "make the world a better place," and by being part of this great organization, Elaine is able to put this into practice, helping herself and others in Hillsborough County Public Schools to “prepare for life”.

The hope is that with people’s kind support of donating books, we all can help young students with their reading success.

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