Students at Foster Elementary in Arlington got to take home four free books Friday and see their library get a small makeover, thanks to funding from a tax and audit firm.
KPMG chose the Title I school because of its need for more resources to strengthen student and parent literacy, said Manny Fernandez, managing partner of the firm’s Dallas office.
Foster Elementary, on High Point Road a few blocks north of The Parks at Arlington mall, was chosen after KPMG researched schools in three U.S. markets, spokeswoman Jamie Bredehoft said. She said the company used socioeconomic information to identify Foster Elementary as the Arlington school most in need of the donation, which is part of its Family for Literacy program.
The auditor company donated 5,000 books to the school and hired an artist to paint a mural above the library shelves depicting different genres. New trees and plaques also spruced up the library’s general look and feel.
The program is part of KPMG’s sponsorship with PGA tour champion Phil Mickelson and pro golfer Stacy Lewis. Every tournament won by either golfer means another school gets a book donation.
Mickelson’s July win at the Scottish Open earned Foster Elementary the rights to the next donation.
Librarian Pat Henry said she is excited about the program and looks forward to how the students will interact with the library.
“This just makes the atmosphere of coming into the library more inviting,” Henry said. “I think even that will encourage them to read more.”
Fourth-grader and student council member Shelby said she is happy to help out with the day’s events, and for more than one reason.
“I am grateful because we don’t have class,” she said. “We have lots of plans to help manage the hallways, but it’s also just really fun to get some cool books.”
Classmate and friend Melanie echoed the sentiment.
“It’s the first time in our life we get to be student councils and help out the KPMG people for the whole day,” she said. “It’s fun. You’re being helpful and learning how to be a leader and you get to see the new stuff in the library and read books.
Debbie Ozanus, national co-leader for KPMG Family for Literacy, said the donation also fits in with her program’s mission to raise literacy rates among children.
“Reading is my favorite thing to do, so for kids to be able to go anywhere in the world with a book, it’s a lifelong gift,” Ozanus said. “It unlocks so many doors. If you can’t read, you can’t even fill out a job application, if you could even get in the door.”
The program started five years ago and has given out 3 million books nationally, Fernandez said. He also said he continues to see the impact the program makes with the children and how families can help at home.
“I hope that by [the students] taking books home, their parents will see how important reading is,” he said. “The family, Mom and Dad are so important during childhood growth, so I hope this will give them an avenue to read with their children, especially if they don’t have books at home.”