40,000 books given away to Clay County students Saturday

New books donated by nonprofit handed out to students, families, educators

By Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - Thousands of students and families lined up at Green Cove Springs Junior High School on Saturday to get free books. More than 40,000 new books were donated to Clay County Schools by the nonprofit  First Book, as a way to promote reading.

Hundreds of students were thrilled to receive free books.

"I am actually really excited," said Oakleaf seventh-grader, Danielle Ibe. "It’s an opportunity to get free books and things parents might not (be able to) afford.

This is the second year the book giveaway has come to Clay County. The school district worked with the Clay County Education Association to make the books available.

"33,222 pounds of books came yesterday in the tractor trailer," said Clay County Education Association President Renna Lee Paiva.

Volunteers worked 13 hours to unload and sort the books.

"They are separated into birth until K, then they have (grades) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, high-school books; birth through 18-years-old," Paiva said.

Each student was allowed up to 10 books and a given a bag to carry them in.

Danielle Ibe was looking for textbooks, mystery books and fantasy books and said the book giveaway was everything she thought it would be.

"It is more. It is crazy. I was in the back of the line and I didn’t think there would be a lot of books left, and there are still so many books for so many kids," Ibe said.

Organizers said the goal is to make sure all students have books.

"This is everything to us. This is putting books into kids’ hands," Paiva said. "Reading is the difference, education is a great equalizer."

First Book was founded in 1992 and since then has distributed more than 170 million books nationwide. 

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