December 20, 2014

Medina
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Drive continues to get book in hands of sixth-graders

“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.

“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.

Coordinators of a countywide drive to provide copies of an inspirational children’s book to every sixth-grader in Medina County are predicting a successful outcome.

“We’re well on our way,” said Kelley Jones, event coordinator for the county’s United Way chapter. “The response has been amazing.”

The book, “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, is about a 10-year-old boy born with severe facial deformities who’s starting public school after being homeschooled. Librarians said the book’s message is to avoid unkindness toward those who are different.

Final donations are due by April 21 and books are scheduled to be delivered the week of May 6. People and businesses can donate used copies of the book or cash to purchase them in bulk, Jones said.

Jones said more than a dozen county businesses, book clubs and private individuals have participated in the drive to get more than 2,000 copies of the book into the county’s schools. Supporters include banks, nonprofits, insurance companies and a variety of other businesses.

Jones declined to say how many books have been donated so far, explaining the number would be announced at the United Way’s annual meeting April 22.

The book drive aims to combat bullying and teen suicide and to foster kindness, coordinators said.

County officials have voiced concerns about teen suicide following a series of deaths and a survey conducted in 2012 by Living Well Medina County that indicated a fifth of the county’s high school students have “seriously considered suicide.”

“Wonder” is the focus of the Medina County District Library’s “One Book, One Community” program. “One Book, One Community” programs across the nation strive to get residents to share a particular book’s message, including reading the story and attending group discussions.

Officials here are in talks to get the book’s author to speak over the summer.

Companies that have joined the initiative have implemented creative ways to get their employees involved, Jones said. Workers at The Ruhlin Co., for example, get entered into a raffle by donating, and Fifth Third Bank employees who donate get to participate in a dress-down day.

Any companies and individuals who participate will be recognized on a sticker bearing their names on the book’s inside cover.

Copies of “Wonder” can be dropped off at any of the county’s libraries. To fund a bulk purchase, contact Jones at (330) 725-3926 or kjones@unitedwaymedina.org.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.