Books collected for young hospital patients

Tyreem Gardner, a patient at Jacobi Medical Center, reads a book provided by Jacobi’s Auxilary book drive, which has already provided more that 10,000 books for children at the hospital to read and take home.
Photo courtesy of Jacobi Medical Center

The Jacobi Medical Center Auxiliary is working to make its young patient’s stays a little easier.

Just over a year ago, the auxiliary began collecting books to distribute to kids during their time at the hospital, and with the help of local schools, they’ve collected more than 10,000 books so far.

Leading the effort is the vice president of Jacobi’s Auxilary, Peggy Vega, who said that getting kids reading has always been a pet cause for her.

“Jacobi sees thousands of kids a year,” she said.

The hospital distributes the books to the patients, who in addition to reading them while waiting for a doctor or receiving treatment, are also able to take that book home with them.

The program has been well received, she said, and the books go very quickly.

To help with the project, Vega enlisted local schools, including the Catholic schools under the leadership of regional superintendent Roseann Carotenuto.

“She was very enthusiastic about it,” Vega said about Carotenuto.

The superintendent reached out to her principals, who responded well to the idea.

“It took off,” she said. “We all got on board.”

The program was a win all around, she said allowing the principals and teachers to clean out their libraries to make room for new books, while ensuring that the old ones were put to good use. Some schools also reached out to parents to donate the books their kids no longer read.

The books are an opportunity to soften the kids stay in the hospital, said Carotenuto, and also gets them reading outside of school.

She wants kids to learn to love reading, and the only way that will happen is if they’re given the chance to read books that they find interesting and engaging.

“Once you capture their heart you capture their mind,” said Carotenuto.

She’s grateful to Jacobi for involving her schools in the program.

“Service to others is so much a part of what we try to teach our children,” said Carotenuto.

The auxiliary will continue to work with local schools and partners in the coming year to collect books for patients, said Vega.

“We want to make this an ongoing project,” she said.

Book donations have come from Holy Rosary School, St. Nicholas of Tolentine School, Santa Maria School, St. Francis of Assisi School, Our Lady of Grace School, St. Helena’s School, Villa Maria Academy, P.S. 175, P.S. 71 and Assemblyman Mike Benedetto’s Office, among other places.

Those interested in donating books can email the auxiliary at jmcauxiliary@nbhn.net.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.

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