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Community Projects

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Books for Kids

New Zealand has an amazing state-sponsored program that gifts books to children several times annually. And in 1994, during a trip touring educational institutions, a US schoolteacher named Patti McClelland saw for herself the joy and excitement the program sparked among the students. Inspired, she decided to launch a similar program back home in Sparks, Nevada.

While data is anecdotal, Patti, or as some of the students have dubbed her, “the book lady,” believes that students on the receiving end of these free books are more aware of the value of reading. One student shared that he chose to excel at Sparks High School after receiving a free book as a first grade student, and others have credited their newfound enjoyment of reading to the books they were gifted.

Beneficiaries of books from this community project include kindergartners, first, second, and fifth or sixth grade classes in seven different elementary schools, as well as eighth graders from Dilworth and Sparks Middle School, and every single student at Sparks High School.

To date, Books For Kids has given away between 65,000 and 70,000 books to local Sparks students through a non-profit organization funded entirely by free-will donations and the money earned from an annual golf tournament fundraiser each summer. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the tournament go to supporting Books for Kids and Patti’s other community project, Read to Ride. Any overhead costs are covered in full by Patti and her husband Gene.

If you’d like to donate to help Patti and Gene continue their work inspiring young generations about the value of reading, click here.

Read for the Ride

As Patti made plans to launch Books for Kids back in 1994, her wheels kept spinning. She wondered what would be motivating enough to encourage a high school student to read. And then it hit her. A car!

Read for the Ride is open to all Sparks High School students. For every book a student reads, he or she earns a raffle ticket from the teacher for entry into a giveaway held twice a year with great prizes. At the winter assembly, students can win a laptop, iPad, Kindle, or other prizes in a random drawing. And in May, students can win the same prizes, as well as one of two cars.

These vehicles are donated by kind Samaritans and the city of Sparks, and they come equipped with new paint, a new stereo system if needed, and a full tank of gas. Read for the Ride has become a wonderful tradition at Sparks High, and it’s also helped bring togther a community of graduates.

Like Books for Kids, Read for the Ride is entirely funded by donations and the annual golf fundraiser. The organization accepts prize donations, money, books, and cars, which are necessary in addition to proceeds raised from the golf tournament.

Ready to donate or participate in our annual fundraise? Click here!

Many Thanks

These worthwhile community projects wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of local Reno and Sparks residents and businesses. Special thanks to Sam’s Sparkle Shop for detailing our donated cars for the past twenty years; Mark Evanovich for donating paint and arranging for paint jobs at area shops; and Nevada Auto Sound for installing brand new radio/CD players at no charge.

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