Facebook posts net free books each month for 504 students at Apollo-Ridge

November 10, 2018

Apollo-Ridge teachers put their Facebook followers and some local businesses to work and quickly raised $4,500 in just a few weeks to buy books for the district’s 504 elementary students.

The students will now receive a free book every month through the end of the school year as part of the $1 Scholastic Book Club.

Reading skills, which are enhanced by recreational reading, are linked to educational opportunities as well as employment and a student’s future civic and cultural life, according to a National Endowment for the Arts study titled “To Read or Not to Read.”

It all started when Apollo-Ridge Elementary School kindergarten teacher Nikki Dunmire saw that a friend who teaches in the Altoona School District asked friends to contribute to buying her students books for recreational reading from the Scholastic Book Project.

Dunmire contributed to the Altoona students’ books, but she thought, “what about my students?”

With some encouragement from her Altoona friend, Dunmire started asking her friends on Facebook to donate $9 per student for a free book each month for the school year.

“Within 54 minutes, I had all 18 students, plus more, covered to buy them one book per month from the Scholastic Book Club,” she said.

Then other Apollo-Ridge teachers ran the same campaign on their Facebook pages.

“Nikki’s Facebook post spread like wildfire and people started donating,” said Amanda Flickinger of North Apollo, a teacher’s aide at the elementary school.

Flickinger wanted to include the entire elementary school - just over 500 students -- for the free book fundraising. Last month, she approached community organizations and businesses, while others such as the school district’s Education Foundation posted the book fund drive on their Facebook pages.

Within two weeks, the entire building was sponsored, according to Flickinger.

Kindergartners, first-graders and 75 percent of second-graders were sponsored from outside donations. The remaining second-graders, plus those in third through fifth grade, were sponsored by community organizations and businesses -- Apollo Assembly of God, Naser Foods and the Apollo United Presbyterian Church Women’s Association.

Students choose their books from a Scholastic flier sent to their classrooms monthly.

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