Fort Mill Times

Mandy Brogdon's class collects thousands of books for kids in Botswana

Students in Mandy Brogdon's third grade class at Springfield Elementary sort books they collected for students in Botswana.
Students in Mandy Brogdon's third grade class at Springfield Elementary sort books they collected for students in Botswana.

Students at Springfield Elementary had a mission: Collect books for children in the Republic of Botswana who don't have any.

Some Springfield Elementary students pieced together a video about why collecting books for the children is important. Others brought in book after book during a week-long campaign. When "Books For Botswana" ended last month, students had collected thousands of books.

"I'm real proud of our students for reaching out and touching the lives of people throughout the world," Principal Barbara Hartsoe said.

"They exceeded the expectation."

The project was the brainchild of students in Amanda "Mandy" Brogdon's third grade class.

"The students wanted to do an end of the year project," said Brogdon, who searched the Internet and was intrigued by the "Books For Botswana" effort. At school, the class of 22 signed on for the effort and with Brogdon's help put together a video of less than two minutes describing that books for children in Botswana - located in South Africa - were lacking. From that, students brought in 4,768 books, Brogdon said.

"I was stunned," she said. "I didn't know the kids would bring in that many books. It was amazing."

The novel approach was perfect for Brogdon to teach character building skills such as responsibility, service and faithfulness, she said. The project also gave students a chance to perfect their math skills.

"We graphed," Brogdon explained. "We kept a tally chart of how many books each class brought in every day."

The tallies showed that one fifth grade class brought in 600 books, Brogdon said.

"The kids were so excited to help," she said. "They were wonderful."

Oriana Palumbo, 9, contributed a bag of Dr. Seuss books.

"I thought it would be nice to donate the books so the children of Africa can increase their vocabulary," she said.

Classmate Vincent "Vince" Catan, 9, donated about 15 childrens books.

"They were easy for me to read," he said.

So he gave them up.

"They don't have many books to choose from," Vincent Catan said of children Botswana. "Now, they will have a bigger variety of books."

Brogdon's class watched a video about the children of Botswana before kicking off the project.

"There was a segment in the video where six children were reading a book and arguing over it," Brogdon said.

From that, Brogdon's students learned a lesson about how everyday things such as books are sometimes taken for granted.

"It made me feel sorry for them because they don't have a lot of books," Haylea Sowul said.

The video also left its mark on 8-year-old Lauren Pringle.

"It made me feel sad because they were fighting," she said. "They didn't have a lot of books."

Like her classmates, Lauren Pringle helped put the video together and her family also contributed books. Last Friday, Lauren offered a wish for the children of Botswana.

"For them to have at least a book," she said.

Recently, the class shipped off five boxes totaling about 70 pounds of books to Africa.

"It was so costly," Brogdon said. "The total was $459."

Mandy Brogdon's third grade class collected more than 4,000 books, but the project is not finished. They still need to raise money for shipping.

If you'd like to help, send a check made out to "Books For Botswana" to Springfield Elementary School, 1691 Springfield Parkway, Fort Mill, SC, 29715.

For for more information, call Springfield Elementary School at 548-8150.