Bookmobile distributes free books to children thanks to Heiss

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The Bookmobile Project of 2021 is rolling through Beloit this summer thanks to its leader Gloria Heiss, intern Kayla Eddy and support from the School District of Beloit, local partners and grants.

“We’ve given out over 650 books so far,” Heiss said.

On Thursday, the bookmobile had stopped at Telfer Park so Eddy and Heiss could hand out books and learning materials to children who were having an end-of-summer camp party through the Merrill Community Center.

“We are excited that so many kids can have books today,” Community Action Executive Director Marc Perry said.

The bookmobile project is the brainchild of Heiss, a 2019 Beloit Memorial High School graduate and rising junior at the University of Wisconsin in the School of Business. As a partner, the School District of Beloit provided the use of a van during the summer to be used as the bookmobile. The bookmobile launched on June 9 at Merrill Elementary School during the Grab and Go meal distribution, according to Executive Director of Business, Human Resources and Operations JoAnn Armstrong.

Heiss secured a total of $7,000 in grant funding from The Wisconsin Idea Fellowship at UW Madison through the Morgridge Center for Public Service and the Stateline Community Foundation to purchase books and implement the bookmobile concept.

Heiss was able to use part of the grant funding to bring on intern Eddy, a 2019 Hononegah graduate who is at UW-Parkside studying English. Eddy assists in driving and dispensing the books, coloring sheets, math worksheets, bookmarks and other goodies, in Spanish and English. Heiss said her passion for literacy has made her a perfect fit for the job.

“She’s a rock star,” said Heiss of Eddy.

The young women store the books in a room made available to them at the Stateline Community Foundation.

Heiss partnered with multiple stakeholder groups such as the Merrill Community Center, Stateline Community Foundation, Beloit Literacy For Life, the school district and other sites to maximize the impact of the grant funds. The bookmobile, driven by Heiss and Eddy, stops at various schools, the Krueger pool and at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church’s soup lunch.

“We hang out with them,” Heiss said.

The goal is to make two to three stops a week. One of its new locations includes Pinnon Meats of West Beloit.

“The people on Friday and Saturday flood over there,” Heiss said. “We try to diversify.”

“At Krueger Pool, the kids run up and are really excited,” Eddy said.

Source – Beloit Daily News

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