MSU donates books to Philippines; promotes literacy

Two students from Mount St. Ursula with stacks of books donated for delivery to the Philippines.

Before they left for the summer, students at Mount St. Ursula were asked one last question; what would it be like to live without books?

The school’s library media specialist Mary Knopp used this query as a means for movement, a method to help the less fortunate living in the Philippines where there are no libraries, no textbooks and little literacy.

Knopp received a letter of appeal for books from Building Futures Together, Inc., a not-for-profit dedicated to “Empowering the poor through social transformation, education and wealth building programs…one community at a time” and immediately put a plan into action.

In approximately one month, the school collected more than 1,000 books to donate to the Province of Samar. A group of student volunteers, faculty and staff then loaded the Building Futures Together van on Friday, June 27.

“The people who were here were really surprised at how much people helped out,” Anna Ramos, MSU director of development, said.

Through a simple word of mouth request from faculty, staff, students and parents, Ramos said the books just kept pouring in.

Eager to help the cause herself, she added that she collected a handful of books from her own shelf to add to the pile.

While she said she honestly didn’t have a hard time parting with “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” she said she’d probably donate more of her favorites the next time around.

“If we did this again I might come up with more books,” she said laughing.

Favorites or not, Ramos said everyone was glad to be involved.

“Just the fact that we were able to help kids from another part of the world made everyone feel good,” she commented.

She added that the project was perfect for the school that’s motto is “Servim,” or “To Serve” in Latin.

Ramos said she’s not only proud of Knopp, who just finished her first year working at MSU, for her work with the book collection, but more importantly with her overall dedication and innovative nature that introduces the students to old lessons in new ways.

This past year, Ramos said the new staff member began the “Get Caught Reading” program, which rewarded students who were found reading during non-designated hours.

“She’s fabulous,” Ramos said about Knopp’s outstanding performance. “I’m really happy she’s doing these things for our kids.”

To donate books, contact Ramos at (718) 733-6242 or

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