Students Donate Over 200 Books to a School in Uganda
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Books are an essential part of a child’s life; but unfortunately for many children across the world, books are hard to come by. Thanks to Saratoga Independent School’s Reach Out and Read program (ROAR), a school in Uganda now has over 200 books to share with local children.
ROAR, now in its 11th year at SIS, is a program that encourages every child to reach their personal reading goal, while at the same time making it possible for them to enrich reading opportunities for other children.
“We want kids to learn that they benefit from people who give their time to our community and that they can do the same,” said Felice Karlitz, Director of Saratoga Independent School. “The children set their reading goal, but they usually surpass it every year.”
Throughout the year, students and faculty log the number of pages read – every two pages read are matched by one penny; at the end of the year, the money is used to buy a library of books for a non-profit organization that serves children. This year’s goal was to collectively read at least 200,000 pages of children’s books, and students were able to raise enough money to buy around 220 books.
“They love to read, so it’s not an incentive,” said Karlitz. “They’re benefitting by reading and enjoying books and improving their skills and at the same time, they’re helping someone else.”
This year the school chose to partner with The Giving Circle -- a volunteer-based, non-profit organization based in Saratoga Springs. The group works both locally and internationally and has built an orphanage called the Koi Koi House and The Kagoma Gate School in Wairaka, Uganda.
“Because of this school and because of books from Saratoga Independent School and all of the other people who help us, these children in Uganda have a brighter future,” said Mark Bertrand, Founder and Director of The Giving Circle. “We’ve been working over there for a little over a year now and these children are already speaking English. They can be teachers, they can be doctors; they can be whatever they want because of education.”
Ann Fantauzzi is a retired teacher who works with The Giving Circle and hand-delivered the books to children in Uganda. She says the village speaks Swahili as its native language, but the children are rapidly learning English thanks to the donated books.
“The teachers at Kagoma Gate and the children of course, books are something they just don’t see a lot of,” said Fantauzzi. “These are kids who have never seen beyond the sugar cane plantation they live next to. They have no idea what the world is like, so they couldn’t wait to get into the books.”
Gathered by children in Saratoga Springs and into the hands of children roughly 7,000 miles away, organizers say these books are benefitting both schools on opposite sides of the world.
“It’s a learning experience for the SIS students,” said Karlitz. “Every time we designate the recipient, a person from the organization comes and speaks to the kids, so they know what they’re working towards. You can see they have these moments of understanding a perspective that’s so different from their daily lives.”
Some prior recipients of books through the ROAR program include Saratoga Hospital, Project Lift, Center for the Family, Head Start, After the Fire and Double H Ranch.
To learn more about The Giving Circle or for information on volunteering, visit www.TheGivingCircle.org.