CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — "Just the presence alone of books, with just the presence alone...students are three times more likely to graduate from high school."
That statistic alone is what inspired Assistant Principal Valerie Arechiga in beginning a holiday project for the students at her school, Calk-Wilson Elementary. After visiting a conference for principal's, Arechiga realized that in today's society, not many children have books at home. "No one hates reading, they just haven't found a love for reading. They haven't found that book that touches their soul," Arechiga said.
Arechiga is known for helping students at all of the schools she has worked at, such as starting the 'Angel Tree' at Crockett Elementary, that has volunteers pick a student and give them a gift they've been needing, such as shoes or clothes.
She says she always thought about what students 'needed' and what basic necessities many students don't have, but never realized some students do not have books at home. So, she decided to give that gift to her students. But, she needed some help to get started. Reaching out to State Representative Todd Hunter over Twitter and Corpus Christi Council Member Paulette Guajardo in organizing a master plan.
"She reached out and said, how can we raise some money, to get all of these books purchased so that we can in turn, give them as a gift to the children here at Calk-Wilson" Guajardo said.
Arechiga says the three met and discussed the first steps, "they without hesitation said we're going to make this happen, let's see what we can do."
In just a month's time, they were able to raise $5,500 dollars and travel to San Antonio to buy the books for all 815 students from Pre-K to 5th grade. Arechiga says every student will receive two books. Books that are not just given, but carefully chosen by each students teacher, based on interests and reading levels.
"Students come to our library, they check out books everyday, but then they have to bring them back. So this project allows students to have a book of their very own," Arechiga said.
Each book will also have a note from their teacher explaining why that book was chosen for that particular student.
"It's nothing better than you can do during the Christmas season than give somebody something to read," State Rep. Hunter said. He believes having a book is the best gift for a child, saying he grew up with a teacher as a parent and books were a part of his childhood. Hunter and Guajardo were so moved by Arechiga's achievement, they hope to continue the gift of literacy.
"I hope Valerie and Calk-Wilson school will take this and set an example for schools in our area and throughout the state."
At 9 a.m. every student at Calk-Wilson Elementary will receive their books in the presence of State Rep. Hunter, Council Member Guajardo, as well as Citgo and the Port of Corpus Christi.