After the devastating results of Hurricane Harvey, Lemm Elementary in Harris County, Texas had lost almost everything. Benicia High School already adopted and donated money to the school, but wanted to do more. BHS Principal, Brianna Kleinschmidt, Leadership teacher and Activities Director Mary Wheat, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leslie Beatson all teamed up with Andre Lewis, a local children’s book author, to donate thousands of his books to the school.
When asked why he donated, Mr. Lewis stated, “I was inspired by my daughter, Sydney, who wrote an article about BHS adopting an elementary school, in Houston, ravaged by a hurricane and my other daughter Reagan who is a part of the Red Cross club. I thought how we as a family could help inspire those who have lost so much by giving them a gift they were not expecting, from people they did not know.”
Mr. Lewis took the first step to reach out to the administration at Lemm Elementary. He asked the administration how many students were enrolled in the school. He was told about 700. After that he spoke with the Asst. Superintendent at Benicia Unified letting her know his intentions and to get guidance on how to proceed.
Once that was done his daughter Sydney sent an email to Ms. Kleinschmidt, Ms.Wheat and Ms.Beatson regarding the project of donating books to Lemm. He asked for the first names of every student in Lemm, including their grade and teacher’s name – creating individual personalized book for each student making the book a special gift hopefully a treasure to be enjoyed and read many times. About 120 students signed the signed these books adding their own special touches.
After the books were delivered to BHS, Ms Wheat and her leadership class determined the best way for the books to be signed by the BHS students. The books were picked up and shipped to Lemm with no cost to Benicia High School or Lemm Elementary.
Mr. Lewis also expresses the best part of the whole experience, “The best parts of the project include being able to inspire dreams in children with a gift, providing an opportunity to empower those who are fortunate enough to be able to give to those who are in need, and to set an example that a few can help many when they work together as one.”
The expectations for this project is for the personalized books to be delivered before the Winter break and presented as an unexpected, but thoughtful gift for the holidays.