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Kiwanis set to launch Silver Valley book drive

by JOSH McDONALD
Staff Writer | February 2, 2024 1:00 AM

KELLOGG — The Kiwanis Club of Silver Valley is gearing up for its first book drive.

The community drive is aimed at getting books in the hands of kids, to encourage a love of reading and encourage literacy.

Local Kiwanis Club President Braden Thomas thought about a book drive for many years after several people told him books weren’t always accessible for kids to take home with them from local schools, especially at the younger grade levels. 

“I had friends who said that their kids were grades behind where they should be,” Thomas said. “They say that third or fourth grade is where experts start to see the biggest drop in literacy rates and that’s where my friends’ kids were. And it got me thinking about how someone could help.” 

Thomas isn’t wrong with his numbers, in fact, according to 2023 data from the National Center for Education Statistics' National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 67% of Idaho’s fourth-grade students are reading below their grade level, which is slightly higher than the national average. 

According to the assessment, two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently at the end of fourth grade end up in jail or on welfare. Those kids also have just a 22% chance of catching up. 

“We want to put books, that they can keep, in the hands of kids,” Kiwanian Karen Dapron said. “We want to give them the opportunity to beat those statistics.” 

The idea took even further hold during a Halloween "trunk 'r treat" event last fall when Kiwanis Club members watched kids flock to the trunk that was handing out books. 

“Not every kid came and got candy from us, and we had good candy, but every kid went and got a book,” Kiwanian Naomie Welshans said. “And not just little ones, older kids, too. Kids like books and I think it’s our job to help them out.” 

They hope they can generate more than 2,000 books during the two-month drive, which would allow every student in the Kellogg, Mullan and Wallace school districts to receive a free book. 

Thomas, along with other members of the small committee of Kiwanians working on the project, will be placing donation bins in all major communities throughout the Silver Valley.

Along with the donations, Thomas has applied for a Scholastic Literacy Partnership, which helps purchase books at a significantly reduced cost. 

The Kiwanis Club is looking for new or gently used books, for ages 0 through 18, but also allowing for books for older audiences as well. 

Donation bins will be at the following locations: 

Pinehurst — Wild Rose Salon

Smelterville — Grocery Outlet

Kellogg — Furniture Exchange and Umpqua Bank 

Osburn — VERS Fitness Studio

Wallace — Mountain West Bank

Mullan is still looking for a potential drop-off place. 

The Kiwanis Club of the Silver Valley Book Drive will begin Feb. 15 and run through April 15. 

For information on the book drive, call the Silver Valley Kiwanis Club at 208-763-8659. To make a monetary donation, mail it to P.O. Box 373, Kellogg, ID 83837. Checks should be made payable to Kiwanis Club of Silver Valley.