Professors, Phi Kappa Phi donate thousands of books to Head Start

From Illinois Business Journal news services

Thousands of children in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Head Start/Early Head Start Program are enjoying new reading materials thanks to the generosity of SIUE and the surrounding community.

SIUE Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 203 partnered with Dr. Stephen Hupp, professor of psychology in SIUE’s School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, to gather new and gently used books between Feb. 1 and April 30. The collaboration began as part of the national Phi Kappa Phi (PKP) book drive contest.

Organizers successfully gathered 2,873 books aimed at children ages six months to six years that will be donated to the SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program.

“Reading sets the foundation for all learning,” said Laura Pawlow, SIUE professor of psychology and president of the university’s PKP honor society chapter. “This book drive aimed to support children who may not have access to the number and types of books that we wish all children had.”

“PKP’s motto is ‘let the love of learning rule humanity’ and the organization is committed to intellectual curiosity, academics and service. This project was the perfect marriage of service that inspires a love of learning.”

In addition to the SIUE community, local businesses, churches and community members contributed largely to the success of the book drive.

“Our psychology and English departments, the SIUE bookstore and SIUE Early Childhood Center all created satellite book drop-off locations,” explained Hupp. “Phi Kappa Phi reached out to the community and collected large sums of books from places like St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Boniface Parish and Afterwords Books, all of Edwardsville.”

Twenty-three PKP chapters participated in the national book drive contest. SIUE was among the top three collecting the most books for those in need. In recognition of its success, the SIUE PKP chapter was awarded a Little Free Library and $150 to personalize the library. Organizers plan to decorate and place it at the Head Start/Early Head Start Center on the East St. Louis campus.

“The Little Free Library will be the perfect symbol of all of the work that Head Start staff does to promote social health and academic readiness,” said Hupp.

The “Take a book, return a book” mission of the Little Free Library will further enhance the availability of reading materials for children.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends daily reading with children starting at birth,” added Hupp. “Daily reading helps promote early literacy skills and language development. I think it even helps with imagination development!”
SIUE’s Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 203 has more than 200 active members, including top academically performing students, faculty and staff.

Hupp and the Behavioral Health Team at the St. Clair County Head Start program have an ongoing book collection initiative. The Kid Books Project aims to collect one million books for children in local Head Start programs, ages five years and younger.
The SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior prepares students in a wide range of fields including community health education, exercise science, instructional technology, psychology, speech-language pathology and audiology, administration and teaching. Faculty members engage in leading-edge research, which enhances teaching and enriches the educational experience. The school supports the community through on-campus clinics, outreach to children and families, and a focused commitment to enhancing individual lives across the region.

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