SAAC organizes a local book drive

From February 7-25, the Maryland Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will participate in a local book drive to help young children master English while maintaining their native language and culture.

The book drive will take place at the local Cool Springs Elementary School in Prince George’s County, with the book chosen for the donation being written by former DMV area football star Vad Lee titled “C ‘is my friend”.

“It is an honor to team up with Maryland Athletics to equip our local youth and potential future Terps with resources that signify the importance of cultural differences, racial unity and representation in schools,” said Lee.

The book promotes diversity, inclusion and literacy, and Sydney StrongUniversity of Maryland Department of Athletics Community Engagement Intern, believes it’s a chance for underserved students to feel more comfortable with who they are while developing skills that will help them go forward.

“The goal of the book drive is to ensure that every student in kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at Cool Springs Elementary School receives a book,” Strong said. “One of the biggest goals is to show these kids how much representation matters.”

Cool Springs Elementary has approximately 90% of its students from immigrant homes whose first language is Spanish. During the 2017-2018 school year, a dual-language immersion program was implemented using the bilingual retention model at the kindergarten level and the following two years, 2018-2019, the program moved to 1st year.

This is a program that helps students become more proficient in English while maintaining their native language and culture. The bilingual program will help foster cultural diversity, so purchasing a book for these students will give them the opportunity to learn about various cultures while learning more through their second language.

SAAC is committed to forging these kinds of relationships in neighboring communities and shows a level of commitment on the part of the university, athletic department, and student-athlete population to do good in the community.

“It shows the university cares about the community. It’s an opportunity not only for the community, staff and student-athletes, but also for elementary school students,” Strong said. “Being able to donate the books to those early kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes makes such a difference. We all live in a cultured world and events like this impact our community.”

The event takes place during Black History Month as Maryland celebrates different cultures.

The goal of the book drive is to ensure that there are enough books for each student, at a minimum, for kindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade. The books will be delivered in sufficient time for Reading Day across America on March 2, 2022.

Going beyond simply donating the books, SAAC student-athletes will go to Cool Springs Elementary and read the books to the children, making the connection even deeper and much more special.

“I’m really proud of the student-athletes,” Strong said. “They’ve always wanted a way to partner up to give back to the community that’s at their games and it’s a way that helps them give back. These kids are just down the street from college and we’re establishing this link. “

Books can be purchased via umterps.com/bookdrive.

Angela C. Hale