Ashland Bookcase Project helps Head Start kids build a reading habit

Ashland West Holmes Career Center senior Ben Lober puts some finish over nails on one of the 80 bookcases the students in John Staats' Construction Technology class made for area Head Start children who will receive them filled with books.

ASHLAND – A smile is a powerful thing. 

It inspires, encourages, promotes warm feelings and indicates delight.

And the Ashland Bookcase Project, founded in 2012 by retired educator and school psychologist Julia Wright, draws smiles on all levels while bringing the community together to promote reading.

From the children who receive bookcases loaded with good reads and a stuffed animal reading budding, to the Ashland West Holmes Career Center students who make the bookcases, and the other community members who work to support the program, there are plenty of smiles to go around.

“When I show up at the distribution ceremony, and you see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they get that bookcase, that is what motivates me to keep doing this,” said Loudonville attorney Dave Hunter, a Career Center board member and chairman of the annual event, which this year will take place in two sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. on April 24.

RAMTEC students help children build a reading habit

Hunter has been chairing the program, meant to help children make reading a habit and a family activity, for about five years. He said 80 children will be receiving the personalized bookcases filled with roughly 60 books this year.

“I think people see the need to give our young people books,” he said.

Construction Technology Instructor John Staats said while his students make the bookcases, students and teachers in other Career Center programs also get involved

Students in the RAMTEC program (Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology) make the personalized name tags. Early Childhood students read to the children. The culinary program provides snacks on the day the bookcases are distributed. And students in the graphics program make the invitations and flyers.

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