Van Nest Academy receives unexpected book donation

Pastor Lois Giles reads to the second grade classes. Photo by Vito Signorile

Donations are always accepted at any elementary school.

The Van Nest Academy on 1640 Bronxdale Avenue, which currently houses kindergarten through second grade, as well as sixth and seventh grade, is only in its second academic year since opening in September 2010.

On Wednesday, November 9, members of the Seven Light Baptist Church at 3855 Third Avenue donated approximately 250 books to the school library after coordinating a book drive at the church during October.

Pastor Lois Giles sat with the second grade students inside the library and read to the young learners. After Giles read, students charged a cart filled with their new books to grab one for themselves to read.

“If there is any way that we can give back to students, it’s always great to give them an opportunity to advance their education,” Giles said. “They were all so excited to sit down and listen to the story. One student even came up to me before I started reading to say thank you for all of the books. It’s wonderful to see how enthusiastic they are to read.”

The book drive was developed by churchgoer Millicent Jones and was praised for her efforts by church leader Mother Mary Walker. Members collected the books over a three week period.

Through a mutual friend, Giles was put in contact with Van Nest Academy principal Carol Gilligan who graciously accepted the books.

Librarian Kristina Miruku was ecstatic about the newest additions to the library.

“We appreciate everything that Seven Light Baptist Church has done for us, especially since we are still a newer school,” Miruku said. “We appreciate every effort that the community makes to improve the education of our students. It was a great effort on their part in putting this together and it’s good for the kids to see that there are other people besides their teachers who care for their education.”

A select amount of books was held over by the church and will be donated to P.S. 42 at 1537 Washington Avenue. Giles said the book drive was so successful that the church expects to continue the collection at least once a year to help any Bronx school in need of additional books.

“We just want the community to know that we are out there, and that means the entire borough,” Giles said.

Seven Light Baptist Church will also be hosting a free Thanksgiving clothing giveaway on Saturday, November 26 to help those in need during the holiday season.

Reach Vito Signorile via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383.

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