Landis resident collects more than 1,600 books for drive

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — This year, a Landis resident with a love of learning collected more than 1,600 books during a book drive for Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.
As a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Destiney Linker, started the book drive as a service project.
“It’s just a great gift to give the children of Woodrow Wilson,” said Principal David Fleischmann. “It’s a gift that will last for many, many years.”
When the school recognized Linker for her contribution, a total of 1,593 books had come in, but more have been donated since then. Another 500 books that were collected will be distributed to Communities In Schools of Rowan County.
Linker, who has now graduated, said UNC Charlotte’s graduate history association was looking for a service project, and they finally settled on collecting books for a school.
Linker found that school after reconnecting with an old friend. Lane Turbyfill, a media specialist at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Kannapolis, went to South Rowan High School with Linker.
“He was telling me the few numbers of books they have here, and how they’re in bad condition,” she said. “I said, ‘OK, we’re going to do a book drive for you.’ ”
The book drive was officially held from Jan. 15 through Feb. 14, but books kept coming in for weeks afterward. Linker said about half of the donations came from UNC Charlotte faculty and students, especially in the history department.
Many of the books that were too high-level for an elementary school were sold to a bookstore near the college campus, Turbyfill said. The money from those sales was used to buy new books to add to the collection.
Later, Turbyfill began talking about the book drive with Vicky Slusser, executive director of Communities in Schools of Rowan County.
Slusser said that her organization needed a lot of books in two of the middle schools it serves for the statewide “Give Five, Read Five” campaign.
During May, parents, business leaders and community members are challenged to donate five new or gently used books to their local elementary school.
“I hadn’t heard of ‘Give Five, Read Five’ until then,” Turbyfill said. “She was realizing that they were going to have to kick it into high gear. I said, ‘I may be able to help.’ ”
Instead of selling the rest of the middle-school-level books, Linker and her group donated them to Communities In Schools.
Linker said it was a pleasure to lead the book drive, because she wants to share the love of reading that has motivated her to earn a master’s degree and start work on a doctorate.
“If a kid wants to read, they should be able to read,” she said. “They shouldn’t be prohibited because the library doesn’t have enough books.”

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.