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These kids, educators and schools made a difference!
Email your OCHO Project success story and photos so that we may post them here. Your story will inspire others by showing what little effort it takes to help those in need and make a huge difference in the world - and feel great doing so!

Northwest Elementary success story - school book drive spreads smiles
Letter from Lisa Peart - Guidance Counselor at Northwest Elementary

Coral Park Elementary and Hunt Elementary success story

EDUCATORS: visit the PROGRAMS page to download the project guide and forms.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
[View the Project Guide]

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Partnering Schools
Coral Park Elementary and Hunt Elementary

How in the world can young children do so much for their peers across town? At Coral Park Elementary School in Coral Springs, Florida, The OCHO Project: Read for a Need did just that. OCHO stands for "Opportunities for Children to Help Others." Students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades were challenged to read eight books and obtain a sponsor for $1.00 per book. With the money collected, books were purchased for the Coral Park readers to give to 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders in a neighboring Title One school, Hunt Elementary. Children selected books by genre (i.e., mystery, fantasy, biography, etc.) and took them to Hunt where 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade students who did not have many books at home could select their very own titles to keep! The children at Hunt were also challenged to read eight books prior to the OCHO Project delivering books to them. Pictures tell the story as do student’s reflections of their involvement in Project OCHO.

Comment from our students:

“I love to read and I want other kids to love it, too!”
“It felt really good to help other children.”  

Number of books donated: 1500

Dr. Amanda Miles, Principal (submitted story)
Coral Park Elementary School
Coral Springs, FL

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Coral Park Students and new books
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girl browses books at OCHO project book fair
kids show off their new books

Tribune correspondent

   HUDSON • Alex Galoza celebrated his eighth birthday Wednesday by helping classmates in need.
   As one of 230 students who collected pledges for the OCHO
- Opportunity for Children to Help Others - service project at Northwest Elementary School, Alex helped make it possible for every student at Northwest to take home free books from last week's book fair.
   "It made my heart feel warm to help," he said. "Some of my friends said that when they went to the fair and saw all those books, their own hearts beat so fast they couldn't stop them."
   Students collected pledges to read eight books each, earning a dollar a book, and brought used books from home.
   They collected more than $1,200 to buy books for this year's fair from Look At A Book. Store owner Chip Houghton donated 500 books.

Northwest's business and community partners sponsored books for 80 students, and Veterans Elementary conducted a book drive.
   The school collected 3,000 books for the fair. The project was greatly needed, said Northwest guidance counselor Lisa Peart.
   "Every year it would break my heart to see students that didn't have enough money to buy a book at the fair," she said. "I'd find myself reaching in my own purse to get change to help them."
   Peart contacted Marilyn Perlyn, a children's book author who founded the OCHO project, a national effort to promote literacy and community service for children. Perlyn previously had worked with schools that staged book-collection efforts on behalf of Title I schools, where a large number of students come from low-income families. But this is the first time a Title I school has conducted its own OCHO project, she said.

   "Northwest is a model school," said Perlyn, who flew from Delray Beach for the book fair.
   Many student council members vulunteered at the fair, including council President Nicholas Golden, 10.
   "Reading makes the mind grow," said the fifth-grader. "This is a good activity for all the kids."
   Students who collected pledges received five books; they were allowed to keep one and donated the others.
   Taking books home will help students improve their reading during the summer, teacher Sue Samuelson said.

School book drive spreads smiles

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OCHO Success at Northwest Elementary

I am a Guidance Counselor at Northwest Elementary in Hudson, Florida. Northwest is a Title One school with over 80% of our students on free or reduced lunch. I met Marilyn Peryln in August of 2008 at a Character Camp. She was presenting on Service-Learning and, of course, The OCHO Project: Read for a Need. I knew immediately that The OCHO Project would be a great service-learning project for our students to get involved in.

Every year when the book fair comes around it just breaks my heart. Many students feel left out because their parents did not have money to give them. Others come in with a handful of change, hoping to get a book, but walk away with an eraser or pencil. What breaks my heart even more is the fact that many students tell me they do not have any books at home. I thought to myself, "How wonderful would it be to have a book fair where all students receive books for free!"

As a Title One school, I knew that many of our families would not be able to collect the $8 pledge money. We reached out to businesses and community members to ask that they donate $8 pledges for our students who could not afford it. About 230 students brought in pledge money and we raised enough money to sponsor another 80 students. Veteran’s Elementary, another local, non Title One School also held a book drive for us to collect slightly used books for our book fair.

We scheduled the book fair for May 2009 so that our students would have books at home to read over the summer. All of our 750 students pledged to read 8 books regardless of whether they could bring in pledge money and all 750 students were able to choose 4 books for free from the book fair. Over $1200 was collected and sent to Look at a Book, the OCHO partnering book provider. There were over 3000 books at our book fair!

The OCHO Project was a huge success and the students were so excited to have books of their own to take home and read. More importantly, they learned valuable lessons in trustworthiness, kindness, and responsibility. Our school was given an opportunity to "Pay it Forward" by sending books to Tanzania, Africa for other children who do not have books at home. Students brought in books they received at last year’s book fair that they finished reading so that another child can enjoy them too. Northwest students are anxiously awaiting this year’s OCHO book fair!

Lisa Peart, Guidance Counselor
Northwest Elementary, Hudson, FL

Northwest Elementary School - Hudson, FL
Number of books obtained through The OCHO Project: 3000