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Program collects books for Northfield

The St. Olaf Education Minnesota Student Program (EMSP) is currently sponsoring a book drive on the campus to gather books for children and young adults. The drive began on Feb. 6 and will continue through Feb. 17. President of St. Olaf’s EMSP chapter Annie Malcom ’17 was one of the primary organizers of the book drive, and had much to say about the aims of the project.

Malcom is a math and Spanish major with a concentration in education studies. She plans on becoming a middle school math teacher and working with the Spanish-speaking population in the future.

EMSP is a part of Education Minnesota and has chapters at various schools offering student programs for aspiring educators. Although the main focus of the organization is professional development, the group also participates in community engagement and outreach. The St. Olaf chapter includes students with a wide range of academic interests, including music, math, science, Spanish and ESL. While each group member has a different background and specific future goals, the group members are united by an interest in education and bring their unique perspectives to the group’s discussions and planning.

According to Malcom, St. Olaf EMSP originally considered running a school supply drive, but it ultimately decided against the idea because it didn’t believe that many students would have the additional school supplies to donate. It opted instead to organize the book drive with the belief that it would likely have a higher level of student participation. The first St. Olaf EMSP book drive occurred last year.

Donation boxes for this year’s book drive are clearly labeled with the words “EMSP Book Drive” and are located in the Fireside Room in Buntrock Commons, outside the education department office behind Tomson 280 and near the front desk of every campus dorm. EMSP had to obtain permission to place the boxes in each of these locations, and Malcom and other EMSP members must check the donation boxes daily.

The St. Olaf EMSP chapter is being very intentional about where it donates the books from the drive. The organization chose to donate locally in Northfield and make books free and accessible to younger students. Donated books collected during the drive will make their way to local elementary schools, Northfield Middle School’s student-run bookstore Tattered Pages and Northfield Promise, an organization dedicated to helping Northfield children. Books from a kindergarten to fifth grade reading level will be distributed to the elementary school category of donation sites. Books above this reading level will go to Tattered Pages or Northfield Promise. Any leftover books will find a home at the Northfield Public Library.

The St. Olaf EMSP is conducting the book drive in conjunction with Read Across America Day. Read Across America Day is a nationwide celebration of reading on March 2, the birthday of Theodor Geisel – more commonly known as Dr. Seuss – and it is a project of the National Education Association. St. Olaf EMSP will bring St. Olaf students to Greenvale Elementary on March 2 to act as role models and read with younger students. Although it is an EMSP event, it remains open to the whole campus for the good of the community and to support education and reading in schools.

So far, Malcom has been keeping donated books from the collection boxes in the trunk of her car. As of Feb. 7, she estimated that she had roughly 250 books.

“By day one my expectations were exceeded, we are in a really good place, and I have no complaints,” Malcom said.

vojcak1@stolaf.edu