PHS book drive nets 1,200 items

By Michelle Seeber

Portales High School students, under guidance of the student council, collected more than 1,200 books to give to young children who need reading material in their homes, Patsy Neely, a senior representative of Re:Learning New Mexico said Monday.
The books will be distributed to children in grade schools and to hospitals, such as La Casa, so they will be able to take them home and read them, Neely said.
“We’ve identified a need to get books in the homes of children in the early years, before they even start preschool — and older children, too,” Neely said. “Re:Learning teamed up with the Portales High School Student Council, which chose to do a book drive as a community service project. That effort was headed up by Michelle Miller and Russell Knudson and Dale Jones, who is the sponsor for the student council at the high school.”
Neely said the high school students brought in more than 1,200 books from their homes that they no longer use and donated them to the literacy drive.
Among the other facilities that will pass out the books will be the migrant clinic through Portales Municipal Schools, Neely said.
“They also will be dispersed through the Portales Municipal Schools summer school program,” she said. “The upper level books will be passed out during summer school. This should help the cause for literacy in the area.”
Neely said the reason for the book drive was that Re:Learning New Mexico had identified a “great need” in this area for reading material in the homes of young children.
“A lot of kids don’t have books in their homes, and we want them to get as many as possible. The high school worked so hard, I just wanted the students to get some credit. The freshmen and sophomores collected more than 1,000 of the books. They held a competition among the classes.”
Re:Learning New Mexico is a state agency that works with schools throughout New Mexico.
“Our focus right now is literacy,” Neely said.
Knudson, the student body president, said, “We wanted children to have books they could actually take home. All the classics, like ‘The Ginger Bread Man,’ whatever people had sitting around in old boxes, they donated them.”
The book drive was in progress about three weeks, he said — two weeks before spring break, and a week following spring break.
“Neely at one time was a third grade teacher,” he said. “She was my third grade teacher. When she brought the idea up, everybody though it was great.”
Neely said if anyone has children in need of books, or wants to donate books, to call her at 359-3049.
“I’d be happy to pick them up,” she said. “So many people have books in their homes that they don’t use anymore that could be really going to a good cause here. Reading at home is so important, and it’s so helpful to the teachers if the kids are reading at home.”