There is a room on the old University High School campus stuffed with boxes of books lining the walls to the ceiling. There are also shelves arranged and organized throughout the room with books just waiting for a child to take home and read.
“These books aren’t doing us any good sitting here in boxes, I’ll tell you that,” said volunteer Mike Frucci.
The Children’s Book Bank was founded in 1997 by John and Jean Frucci, retired educators in the Central Valley School District. They have distributed more than 100,000 books to children in Spokane County since then. In the last year, their son and his wife, Mike and Vicki Frucci, have taken over the book bank.
It’s a partnership between Spokane-area Kiwanis clubs and Success by Six. Teachers can make an appointment to come and pick out books for their students to take home and keep. Mike Frucci said they often take two books for students.
He said he is always amazed “how much effort a teacher will put into picking out a book for their kids.
“They know what they’re looking for, for their students,” he said.
Teachers and anyone else who works with children can come to the book bank. Mike Frucci said they have given books to people as far away as Republic, Wash.
“We go through a lot of books,” he said.
The Fruccis both work for the Washington State Department of Transportation, so they usually make appointments in the late afternoon or weekends, which works well for teachers.
The books come from Success by Six, book drives put on by local Kiwanis clubs or through donations at local Hastings bookstores. The Fruccis sort through the gently used books when they receive them, organizing them into stacks according to age group. They usually collect books appropriate for infants through the third grade.
The books they can’t use go to Spokane Valley Partners, and many books are sent to that organization for the holiday baskets their clients take home.
Vicki Frucci said it is not just the 16 adult Kiwanis groups that collect books for the bank. There are also members of Circle K, the college level of Kiwanis, and high school Key clubs that contribute. She said Lincoln Heights Elementary School on the South Hill has an active K-Kids program with a drop box on the school campus to collect book donations.
Sometimes books come in that are too beat up to give to the teachers. When this happens, the Fruccis send the books to St. Mary’s Church to be recycled.
“Nothing that comes in is thrown away,” Mike Frucci said.
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