Children Are ‘Real Winners’ of Friendly Competition

Jan 19, 2016

A competition between The University of Scranton and the borough of Tunkhannock resulted in the donation of more than 10,000 children’s books to encourage reading.

The “friendly competition,” as described by Debra Pellegrino, dean of the University’s Panuska College of Professional Studies (PCPS), began when she, University faculty specialist Sandra Lamanna and Blue Ridge School District School Psychologist Jenna Stoddard discussed illiteracy issues in the region as guests on the “Jasikoff and Friends” radio program.

The dean mentioned the “Blessing of the Books,” a PCPS program now in its ninth year, where books donated by members of the University community are personalized with a hand-written note by the donor or a student, blessed and distributed through Scranton-area organizations and children’s programs to promote literacy.

Louis Jasikoff, host of the program that airs on Twigs Café Radio, thought that the Tunkhannock community, through businesses, community organizations and schools, could collect more children’s book donations than the University. And so began the “friendly competition.”

Tunkhannock area businesses, the Rotary Club, Tunkhannock Area School District and the high school’s Interact Club led the drive.

The collection results were announced at a reception in January at Twigs Café: Tunkhannock collected more than 10,000 books.

Dean Pellegrino was thrilled with the results. “You won,” she said to Jasikoff and community members at the reception. “But the real winners are the children who will receive these books.”

Jasikoff and Dean Pellegrino thanked community members who made the drive successful, including Ron Furman of the Tunkhannock Rotary Club; Terry Furman of the Literacy Club of the Tunkhannock Rotary Club; Superintendent Frank Galicki of the Tunkhannock Area School District; Tommasina Fiorillo, Spanish teacher at Tunkhannock Area High School and moderator of the school’s Interact Club (and a University of Scranton graduate); Lori Bogedin of Twigs Café Radio; Donna Arnold of La Voz Latina; and Terry Martin of Quad County Independent Gazette.

Dean Pellegrino wants to continue the University’s tradition of students writing notes to the children on the donated books prior to the distribution. She hopes too the Tunkhannock book drive will become an annual event.

In its first eight years, nearly 20,000 books have been distributed through the Blessing of the Books program.

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