Community drawn to Spring Fling book giveaway

MARIETTA – Several hundred community members of all ages played and walked away with additions to their home libraries during the annual Spring Fling book giveaway at the Ely Chapman Education Foundation on Saturday.

“Everyone seems to be having a good time and fun with the games and books available,” said Alice Chapman, founder and chair of the foundation, located at 403 Scammel St.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. more than 500 adults and 200 children filled the three-story school building, which not only had rooms filled with free books for children ages 4-11 years and adults, but also games and literacy sessions.

“We are combining fun and literacy to get children excited about reading,” Chapman said.

Children were encouraged to enter the children’s book room alone and select up to 10 books by themselves, Chapman added.

“We want the kids to get excited about reading the books they picked out,” she said. “Even if it is above their reading level, they will be more encouraged to at least try it than if their parent chose it for them.”

Chapman said seeing the children excited about books and stories made her happy and all of the work the more than 10-year-old program took worth it.

“There was one 4-year-old boy who was doing little dances about each book he picked out,” she said. “It was really adorable to see the excitement and joy.”

Gabriella Grabon, 11, of Lowell, spent more than 20 minutes going through the books piled on the tables in the room as her younger sister Olivia, 9, and father Eric Grabon waited. Gabriella carried a stack of her chosen books in her arms and precariously held them each time she picked up and looked at a different tome.

“Gabriella is huge into books,” Grabon said. “She just loves to read, so I had to bring her here for more.”

Zach Husk, Ely Chapman Education Foundation middle school program director, said he was pleased to see so many children benefit from the event.

“It is really great to see the support from the community for the kids,” he said.

The Ely Chapman Education Foundation, in conjunction with the Marietta College Department of Education and through the Christian Appalachian Project, provided the books for adults and children at no cost and the activities.

The foundation also hoped to raise between $2,000 and $5,000 for the foundation through the event’s country store, silent auction, bake sale and donations.

The annual Spring Fling book giveaway is the main fundraiser for the foundation.