Modest book drive request turns into ‘overwhelming’ response for local elementary school

Brookview asked for 24 books; it has received more than 1,400 so far

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The orders came in as fast as Jessica Daniel could put them up.

A week later, packages and envelopes stuffed with books were still rolling in for students at Brookview Elementary School.

Students there are benefiting from the generosity of hundreds of Twitter followers who were spurred into giving last week by a series of posts on the social media site. The bulk of those donations came from Jaguars fans, both locally and from around the country.

Daniel, a reading coach at the K-5 school on the Southside, said that teachers remain overwhelmed on just how much this means, especially considering how modest the goals were to start with. Based on the number of books donated and the prices of each, Daniel estimated that the books so far exceed $14,000.

“This is out of our wildest dreams. We never expected it. We were just doing a mystery book thing, wanting 24 books for our students to have one per classroom and then it … we hit that mark in 30 minutes,” Daniel said. “So, we thought why not do one book per kid and so now we’re past that and it’s crazy. We’re really excited.”

On Tuesday, students were able to begin choosing two books apiece to keep from the more than 1,400 that were donated. With an enrollment of 465 students, Daniel said that the extra books will be divvied up among teachers at the school for additional reading material in their classrooms.

“We’re really excited for our students to just have books in their hands in their homes so they can read with their families,” she said.

Teachers did their best to keep all of those books a secret, but that was easier said than done.

They turned a classroom into a mini bookstore and put the finishing touches on that setup Monday afternoon. Daniel said that students caught on that something out of the ordinary was going on.

Teachers filled two boards at the school with all of the receipts from Amazon, many of them with notes of encouragement written on them or a Jaguars

A board at Brookview Elementary with hundreds of Amazon receipts posted on it. The school has received more than 1,400 book donations, almost all of them coming since Jan 19 posts on Twitter. (News4Jax)

When News4Jax first reported on Brookview’s book drive on Jan. 19, the school had gone from 221 donated books that morning to more than 700 books by that afternoon. Between that last check in and when teachers had unboxed and set up all the books Monday, that number had doubled.

Heather Garner, a teacher at the school, initially tweeted out an Amazon link with the book list on Jan. 18. A day later, her son, Jack Rowan, retweeted it, and Eric Dillard, who goes by E_Dilla on Twitter,

“If they’re willing to put this in this much effort into supporting kids at a Title 1 school in Jacksonville imagine if we turned all of our anger and frustration toward positive,” Garner said. “How much of … it would just repeat into just we could take over the world with happiness and love and caring and the giving heart of Twitter community and Jags community is just overwhelming.”

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