OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego City School District is “Driving Books Homes” this summer with the help of a bookmobile.
Throughout the district, books are being collected to help stock the new vehicle. Books (age appropriate for Pre-K – 12th grade) can be donated at the YMCA, river’s end book store and the public library.
The goal of the program is to encourage youngsters to continue reading over the summer so they don’t lose the skills they learned in school, according to Joan Dain, a reading – writing teacher in the school district.
Driving Books Homes is a cooperative effort between the district, the Oswego YMCA and SUNY Oswego. It grew out of last year’s Oswego Reads program, Dain said.
The United Way and Literacy Volunteers are also looking to be a partner as well and the library staff is assisting with the book drive, added Deana Masuicca, director of the YMCA.
“We know where the kids are during the summer. We will take the books to them,” Dain explained. “We’re thankful to everyone who’s helping us get this effort off the ground.”
The YMCA actually owns the vehicle.
“We are working in conjunction with the Y,” Dain said. “The Y will have two AmeriCorps members working for them. We will help with the training of the AmeriCorps people. They will have an education background, something to do with children.”
There will always be two people on board the bookmobile.
Dain said she, with the assistance of Terri Delahunt-Daino, put together grants that helped with the purchase of the bookmobile.
“She really played an integral part in all of this,” Dain said. “We wouldn’t be where we are now without her; she’s really helped a lot. When I was in doubt, she was like, ‘No, we can do it!’”
The vehicle will be 100 percent sponsored and/or grant funded, Masuicca pointed out.
Bill Myer of the district’s transportation department did a wonderful job of inspecting the vehicle to determine if the Y should acquire it, Dain noted.
“He found a little oil leak; they took care of that and a couple other little things,” she said. “The people who owned it were very sad to let it go. I want to contact them and let them know it has a great home now and we’ll take good care of it.”
Some of the possible sites the bookmobile will visit include the YMCA, Scriba Town Recreation, Fort Ontario Park and the Oswego Farmers’ Market, Dain noted.
“We just have an amazing community,” Dain said. “So many people are concerned, they are stepping up to help. That’s what it’s going to take, our community to come together to make this happen.”
“You can commit a couple of hours to the project or several hours though the summer,” Masuicca noted.
They will have the bookmobile in the Fourth of July parade and the program will get under way that Tuesday, July 5, she said.
“The beauty of Oswego is that it is small enough that it is interconnected. Somebody knows somebody who will step up and help with this and that,” Dain said. “I started thinking about why things happen so quickly and I think that one of the reasons is that Oswego is a community where we have so many wonderful people, they really care about their community and want to help kids be successful.”
“Everybody is busy and involved in something. But they still find ways to help,” Masuicca added. “If everybody does just a little bit then we’ll be able to pull this together.”
They encourage people to come and read some of their favorite children’s books to the youngsters this summer.
“The whole idea is to keep children excited about reading; to get books into their hands that they can read,” Dain said. “We will be at each site for close to an hour. The kids can take books home, for free. We are encouraging them to bring them back because the whole idea is to recycle and share. If they want to keep reading that book, then great. Then they can bring it back in a couple weeks.”
They also hope that when the bookmobile returns to a site that the youngsters will want to talk about some if the books they read the last time, Dain said.
“Kind of like a tiny book club where the kids can talk about their favorite books and share,” Masuicca added.
The program has a few sponsors already and more are likely to climb aboard this summer, Dain said.
Pathfinder Bank and Entergy are two of the main sponsors currently. Fastrac is assisting with gas for the vehicle.
“We have other sponsors that we are waiting to hear from,” she added. “Everything is happening at warp speed! The beauty is we have the vehicle, we have the books so even if the graphics (covering for the vehicle) doesn’t happen soon, we will still be ready to roll.”
The vehicle was made down South by a company that manufactures bookmobiles and bloodmobiles. It is about 10 years old.
“It was an adventure. Once we had it and were on the road, it was really exciting,” Dain said of the approximately 10-hour trek back to the Port City. “It’s all part of the story. I couldn’t wait to tell the kids at school Monday about it.”
They plan to bring the bookmobile around to the district’s seven schools in June to acquaint the students with it.
Organizers said they would like to see the bookmobile on the road all eight weeks of summer.
The official unveiling is tentatively set, “if all goes well,” for 5 p.m., May 31, at the Oswego YMCA, Dain said.
“The beauty of it is this collaborative nature, the pulling together of the great resources we have here in our community to do a wonderful things for kids. School districts have a lot of issues, a lot of things to address and in my opinion, they can’t do it alone. The community really needs to help. I know we can do it; this is an example. It really does make a difference,” she said.