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Chesapeake Academy book drive helps Free Health Clinic

From left are Northern Neck Free Health Clinic Executive Director Jean Nelson, students Sadie Hassman and Jordan Abbott, and clinic volunteers Dr. Ann Kingsbury and Dr. Milton Kingsbury.

Jordan Abbott and Sadie Hassman know the power of words.

The two fifth-graders at Chesapeake Academy in Irvington are avid readers who love books and serving the community. On their own, they came up with a plan to combine the two loves and spread the wealth that words can offer.

They dropped by the Northern Neck Free Health Clinic April 11 with their collective efforts—650 books for children who pass through the clinic to pick up and enjoy in their own time.

“These books are a wonderful gift,” said clinic executive director Jean Nelson. “We can use them in the waiting room, and give to children who are here for providers. What a great idea to move these books off the shelves and into the hands of children who might not have a chance to read them otherwise. We are all truly impressed.”

Their book drive, once it started, engaged the whole Chesapeake Academy community, said head of school Deborah Cook. “It was their own idea. They did all the preparation and all the promotion,” she said. “They went to the student council to get support, and they have a power-point presentation for the whole school.”

The whole school got behind it, Cook said. The book drive was announced at a March 5 school assembly, and on March 10 a challenge was issued: if Jordan and Sadie collected 300 books, Cook promised to dye her hair blue. By March 12 her fate was sealed and another challenge was added: collect a second 300 books, and assistant head of school Julianne D. Keesee would do the same. Students, parents, faculty, staff and school trustees all donated books, and the book drive was concluded by March 21. Both heads of school turned blue.

Both girls “really believe in community service,” Cook said, and they are already planning their next effort— a collection of socks for those in need this fall, dubbed “Socktober.”

Jordan is the daughter of Richard and Jan Abbott of Weems, and Sadie is the daughter of Doug and Corey Hassman of Kilmarnock.

posted 04.30.2014

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