During COVID-19 restrictions, school media centers and public libraries have had to close their doors, making it difficult for some of our most vulnerable students to access books. Now, that students are away from school for summer break, Hillsborough Education Foundation is dedicated to ensuring students can access books and continue building reading skills with a new literacy initiative HEF Neighborhood Libraries.
“With this particular initiative we’re looking to install 40 of these boxes at the 40 highest needs elementary schools in Hillsborough County Public School,” said Hillsborough Education Foundation Chief Programs Officer Paul Casebolt. “Our hope is that these book boxes will provide students with the very basic thing that they need to be able to read, and that is books.”
Produced by Little Free Library, the world’s largest book-sharing movement with more than 100,000 book-exchange boxes worldwide, HEF Neighborhood Libraries consist of durable composite boxes that look like miniature houses and can withstand the Florida weather. They will serve as a place where neighbors are encouraged to take or leave books for students all ages on a variety of subjects.
“The nice thing about these is that it’s a community project. Anyone in the community can come and leave a book, take a book, and open up their world in ways they haven’t been able to before by getting access to books. Literacy is the foundation of success for students,” Casebolt said.
To kick off the initiative, a team from FloodGate Medical, a local medical recruiting firm, assembled 34 of the remaining libraries for students. Jill Girard, FloodGate Medical Strategic Account Manager, said the team jumped at the opportunity to assist in building the libraries and make a difference in the community.
“Giving back to the community is huge for our organization, it always has been. One of our core values is serving, and we truly believe that serving is winning.” Girard said. “Knowledge is power right? So, the more that they have exposure, the more that they have books at their disposal and the ability to read— it expands their minds and expands their futures. It’s so important.”
For more information on our HEF Neighborhood Libraries initiative, contact Paul Casebolt at [email protected]. To learn about other exciting Hillsborough Education Foundation initiatives, please visit www.educationfoundation.com/initiatives.