Pay it forward, read

 Sandra MartinLibrarian and Volunteer extraordinaire

Books have always been an escape for Sandra Martin. The mom of two Uplift Hampton scholars, grew up in a family without extra income for extravagant childhood escapes. For her, reading was that escape. Books opened her to a world of poetry, art and cultures from around the world.

“Books were my life line,” said Martin.

She is now pursuing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Arlington in hopes to be social counselor.

Martin said she can relate to scholars because she will be the first in her family to graduate from college.

As part of her college requirements she had to complete 10 volunteer hours. Martin’s daughter suggested she volunteer at Uplift Hampton Secondary library.

Last year the library was selected by Capital One and the Heart of America Foundation for the READesign Makeover.

The school received more than 3,000 books. Boxes of books of fiction, non-fiction and various reading levels were stacked across the library.  Martin said her daughter offered to help finish putting together the library, Middle School Director Andrea Anderson-Parks did not hesitate to say, yes.

“I want the library to be a place of community,” said Martin.

The 10 hours came and went but Martin is committed to completing the library.

Uplift Hampton Secondary's library is read for books to be checked out.
Uplift Hampton Secondary’s library is ready for books to be checked out.

Although a computerized check-out system has not begun, middle school scholars began checking out books a few weeks ago. Martin said there are  currently between 60 and 70 books in circulation.

Among sheets of paper there are scholars’ names and the books they are checking out.  Anderson-Parks said she is happy to see scholars going into the library on their own because it means they are owning their own learning.

“We want to build their intelligence and their minds and having them come into the library to get books of their choice and not being forced to do so, that just something that’s really amazing,” said Anderson-Parks.

Martin recalls having a scholar go into the library who was not too excited to read. She asked him what his interests were and found him a sports book.

It is moments like those that make Martin happy and hopes more scholars will take advantage of the library.

She also encourages other parents to volunteer.

“It’s a way of paying it forward,” said Martin.

She adds there are several ways parents can help organize the library but most of it is important to encourage their children to read.

Contact your child’s school library for volunteer opportunities.

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