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Riley Elementary students get to take home two books each after fair

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 17:44:12-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There's something truly magical about cracking open a good book.

"This is my favorite author," said Demtrius O'Neal, a 5th grader at Riley Elementary. "Gerronimo Stilton."

Naturally, Demtrius was excited to see his favorite author at John G. Riley Elementary School's Book Fair.

"The reason I chose this book, because I really love adventures and islands and mysteries," said Demtrius.

And even more excited to have a book of his own to take home with him.

"For 3 weeks in late summer, we rallied our members of our station to give from their own paychecks. We didn't ask the public to give, we asked the people from our station to give," said Matt Brown, the general manager and vice president of ABC 27. "They were very very generous and we raised $12,000."

Riley Elementary is a Title 1 school tucked right in the center of Florida's poorest zip code, 32304.

ABC 27 employees, with a matching donation from the Scripps Howard Foundation, raised enough money to host two free books fairs, giving students the chance to take four books home this year.

"You look at these kids come through the door and you look at their excitement to get these books. In a way, I think about when my kids were little it was another book on the shelf," said Liz Carter. "For these kids, it's another book on the shelf, it's the only book in the shelf. It's not the icing on the cake, it is the cake for them."

These two free books are just the spark for the kids at John G. Riley. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation, they're able to continue a love for reading.

That money will help create a nonfiction book club for the students and their parents.

Principal April Knight was once a student at Riley herself. She knows how far the investment will go in shaping the future of her students.

"Riley Elementary School was such a foundation for me because I had principals, teaches and secretaries," Knight said. "It was very much so a community school with everyone involved."

They'll have another book fair and get two free books at the end of the school year as well.