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Neighborhood Generosity Gives Dupont East’s Ross School Library Big Boost

By Christi Harlan*

[Note: Photographs accompanying this news story in the print edition can be viewed in the full PDF copy in the Current & Back Issues Archive.]

Neighbors and friends of Ross Elementary School contributed an unprecedented $6,000 to purchase books for the school library during a two-day fund-raiser in late April that also gave donors an opportunity to honor loved ones for Mother’s Day.

Contributors were invited to select titles from a list of almost 500 books requested by teachers and students at the school; the contributors could dedicate each book to a favorite “mom,” who then received a letter from Ross Principal Amanda Alexander describing the bookplate that will note the honoree’s name.

The donors “chose books that are fun, have literary value and are ideal for classroom instruction, as well as free-time reading,” Dr. Alexander wrote. “We know that the students will greatly enjoy the new additions to our school collection.”

Ross Elementary, at 1730 R Street, NW, relies on the Mother’s Day book drive to fulfill wish lists and fill gaps in the shelves of the one-room library. This year’s event, held April 24 in front of the 17th Street Safeway and on April 25 at the farmer’s market at Dupont Circle, was the seventh annual fund-raiser—and a smashing success.

“This is the most we’ve ever raised, and it’s a tribute to the community,” said Kathy Nelick, a volunteer at Ross Elementary who previously worked at the Library of Congress and now enjoys the company of younger and shorter patrons: “Coming to the library is the highlight of the day for the kids,” she said.

The $6,000 donated this year will enable the Ross librarians to purchase sets of books for reading clubs within individual classrooms and to purchase favorites that students have requested, including graphic novels and books on drawing.

Some student requests stumped the librarians: “We have one girl who asked repeatedly for a book about bush babies,” Nelick said, laughing. “We didn’t even know what a bush baby was, but we found a book and put it on the list.” A contributor paid for that book, ensuring that the Ross student can read about the nocturnal African animal distinguished by its big eyes and long tail.

“Everybody at the school appreciates how much support we receive from our neighbors in Dupont Circle,” said Elizabeth Edmonds, who puts her master’s degree in library science to work as a Ross volunteer. “The success of this book drive makes the kids know people care about them.”

*Christi Harlan is a freelance writer and 15-year resident of Dupont Circle.

Copyright (c) 2010 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Christi Harlan. All rights reserved.