First Lady Jennifer Maggio announced her service project “Forks Up for Literacy,” a campaign with a goal of collecting 1,884 books for children ages 5 to 15. She plans to hold an annual collection for the 1884 campaign at the first home football game every year.
Based on the year NSU was founded, the campaign seeks to collect gently used and brand-new books to distribute to local school systems in Bossier, Caddo, Natchitoches, Rapides and Vernon Parish.
More than 2,000 books have since been collected following the official campaign kick off on Sept. 16, surpassing the goal.
Scholastic book company has also agreed to match any monetary donations raised by the First Lady for the purchase of new books.
Maggio developed a passion for literacy as a former teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School and as a mother of three. She said as a parent she has tried to foster a love of reading in her children.
“I am just shocked, even at the college level, when you talk to kids, many of them will say ‘my parents never read to me,’ ‘I didn’t have books in my home,’ ‘I hated reading in school,'” she said. “When you think about trying to improve the schools here in Natchitoches Parish, try to help our kids to have a better opportunity, I really think the key is reading.
“Getting them to be comfortable with reading, knowing they can read – that it is something they can enjoy, we are finding, even in people my age, that it is life-long learning.”
As First Lady, Maggio said she plans on assessing the needs of the school systems and if they are not in need a the time, the campaign can be extended to the community.
“[I think] it will help the community here in Natchitoches feel more connected to Northwestern as well,” she said.
Donations can be dropped off at the President’s Residence on the front porch or under the carport, and books will continue to be collected at football tailgates. Those interested in helping the First Lady collecting books, placing stickers in the front cover and distributing them to children can contact Jennifer Maggio at firstname.lastname@example.org.