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February 5, 2020
Maine East Students Collecting Books for Students in Need

Students at Maine East High School are working to collect 1,500 children’s books as part of their literacy class. The students are applying their own literacy skills to support the project that will benefit children in the area from birth to grade 6 who might not have access to books.

The project is part of a field trip planned for the students in Rachel Samlan and Debbie Labno’s Applied Literacy classes. In March the students will visit Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Bluff to sort books and learn about the mission of the organization related to literacy. “Having visited the book bank with our own families, Rachel and I got the idea to bring this project into the classroom as part of our learning,” says teacher Debbie Labno.

As part of the project, the approximately 70 students have made posters, collection boxes, written PA announcements and are encouraging adults at school and in their family to donate books. The students also are sorting the books for delivery to Bernie’s Book Bank. According to the research, two out of three low-income children have no books of their own. Bernie’s Book Bank sources, processes and distributes quality children’s books to significantly increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland. More information can be found at

“The goal is to help the less fortunate kids who might not have access to books,” says sophomore Juan Jara. “I like that we have the opportunity to help other students through this project.”

A portion of the project is being funded by the Maine Township High School District Educational Foundation. They provided an $800 grant related to transportation for the project. Learn more about the foundation at:

The drive is currently running and ends on Feb. 14. Any community member who wants to donate children’s books for the drive can drop them off at Maine East High School.