One truly never knows when or where they’ll be inspired. When Sierra View fourth grade teacher Sigrid Noordewier volunteered for the inaugural Oakdale Community Closet during the summer of 2018, her intentions were pure and simple.
Inspired by the idea and goal of recycling clothing throughout the community, Noordewier shared she thought the idea was brilliant and a great use of resources.
“It was a great event and I was glad they had done it,” she said of volunteering at the event. “We need more of that. In every city we should all be doing that.”
An important piece to the clothing event which the teacher felt inspired by was its purpose to be for all community members, not just the less fortunate or those “in need.”
“As volunteers we sifted through the stuff,” she shared. “We all found things here or there.”
So late last year when approached by a parent interested in donating books to her classroom, the request seemed simple. Upon receiving the large number of books, many of duplicate title to her class library, Noordewier had an idea. Speaking with fellow teachers and then classrooms, the idea of a book program similar to the clothes closet began to transform.
“When it comes to recycling and you ask them (children) what we can recycle they think of cans and bottles and there’s so much more than that,” the fourth grade teacher stated.
As word spread and students became inspired the staff found themselves with over 2,000 donated books.
“I’m not a huge green person, I don’t do organic or any of that,” she confided. “But if you have something and you have a lot of it and you don’t need it anymore, let’s give it to somebody else who can use it.”
The number of books collected, the teacher shared, left her pleasantly surprised. As she spoke with varying staff members multiple ideas came to fruition. Among the ideas, the “book cart” was born. Each day a two sided cart of books is placed on the playground for students who may simply want to read to themselves or share a book with a younger student during recess break or lunch recess.
“I told the kids if you like it, take it,” Noordewier said. “If you’re done bring it back. If you forget to bring it back, that’s okay. If you bring something else, great.”
In addition to the free books on the book cart, a box of books is also staged in the school office for parents seeking books to build their home library for their children.
“That’s what it should be for. We all have books at home that are untouched,” she said of the sharing book program, “and they stay there or we box and give to Goodwill, which that is a good cause. Here in the school system let’s get them into the hands of somebody else that’s going to read them.”
With so many books now in circulation, Noordewier is hopeful that their books will help other schools or organizations within the community build their own book share program. She’s also excited about the opportunity the program has offered the student body by way of being gracious and sharing what they have.
“They get so excited that they have something to share. The fact of them being selfless is very good,” she said. “It’s also exciting to me seeing them want to give.”
Referring back to her initial inspiration through the clothing drive, Noordewier shared she wants to see the program spread throughout the community.
“I want it to be more of something for the community or for our school versus boxing them up and shipping them,” she said. “I am open for suggestions. We have them now, what can we do with them. It was Mrs. Graham’s idea to put them out on the playground.”
The project encourages students to want to read, she noted.
“What’s more exciting to me is when I have a parent tell me, they wouldn’t pick up a book before and now they won’t put it down.”
For additional information on the program or to offer suggestions e-mail Noordewier at firstname.lastname@example.org.