Mat-Su elementary school receives over 1,000 books after community book drive

Mat-Su elementary school receives over 1,000 books after community book drive
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:36 PM AKDT
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BUTTE, Alaska (KTUU) - The students in Anastasia Anisimova’s second and third-grade loop classroom were learning all about digraphs and blends last week at Butte Elementary School. They would take dry-erase markers to individual whiteboards as their teacher guided them through words letter by letter.

The students were excited because in one room over, pages full of these phonics waited patiently to be read.

“The kids kind of pick their own things that they like to read, which is one of the kinds of predictors of whether they’re going to keep reading or not,” Ms. Anisimova said. “Giving them a choice is really important, and the only way you can do that is by having a selection of books.”

According to Anisimova, keeping classroom bookshelves stocked is an ongoing process.

“If you talk to a librarian, books last about three to four years in the hands of kids,” she said. “They wear out and then kids’ tastes change, there’s new trends — so you really do have to kind of keep it going.”

It’s a selection Anisimova didn’t have at the start of the school year, which is why she reached out to the valley community for help. She got the attention of a familiar voice in the state — and new resident of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough — Bob Lester from KWHL. After hearing what Anisimova was trying to do, Lester decided to organize a book drive in the parking lot of the old Sears building in Wasilla.

Lester created a support team that consisted of KWHL, KHitz, Big Dreams Transport, Visionary Construction, and Matanuska Brewing Company to put on the book drive. The goal was to get 1,000 books donated in 12 hours, but the weather on that fateful Friday was less than ideal to hold an outdoor event as the wind blew sideways rain.

“Thank you to Mother Nature,” Lester said during the morning of the drive. “Only if she can make it the worst weather day possible to do this, and she delivered.”

Despite the rocky start, however, residents braved the stormy conditions and dropped off enough children’s books to exceed their goal.

“We got just about 1,200 books,” Anisimova smiled as she sat in front of the book piles in the adjacent classroom. “We’re really happy with this and I’m going to share it with all the teachers in the building and the library.”

Anisimova did have to organize the donations to weed out moldy and adult books but said her kids couldn’t wait to start reading the new material.

On top of getting more books into her school, Anisimova is also working on another charitable cause for kids — that is collecting gently used or new Halloween costumes for students in the district.

Anyone interested in donating a costume may do so at the Palmer Elks Lodge through Oct. 23.