JWMS Book Fair Will Benefit School Damaged by Hurricane Irene

Everyone knows that books are excellent tools for helping children learn to read. But Johnson Williams Middle School librarian Andy Kiser believes that books can also be used to teach his students lessons about helping neighbors in need, even when the neighbor happens to live in another part of the country. Teaching the Golden Rule is just part of the reason that Kiser is launching the school division’s sixth annual Book Fair on Monday.

“The school library in Pamlico County, North Carolina was hit pretty badly by Hurricane Irene and the librarian there said that they lost about 900 items from their book collection,” Kiser said on Friday while setting up for the sale in the JWMS library. “I’m hoping to use a portion of the proceeds from our book fair here to help the Pamlico County schools rebuild their collection.”

The JWMS Book Fair offers more than just books - Photo Edward Leonard

Although helping a far-away school system rebuild its library collection may seem counter intuitive given so much discussion over local school funding needs, Kiser says that life’s most important teaching opportunities sometimes present themselves in unexpected ways.

That’s why Kiser plans to share a portion of the Book Fair’s proceeds with students in Pamlico County.

“My goal is to get kids to think not only about their local community but the greater human community at large,” Kiser said. “Lessons like this can help them learn the importance of assisting others who are in need.”

Kiser’s approach is all that more innovative because he has figured out how to teach the lesson of brotherly love by leveraging credits from a book seller’s book fair incentive program to help the Pamlico library.

JWMS librarian Andy Kiser hope to use a portion of the proceeds from the "One for Books" program to assist a public school library in Pamlico County, Mississippi whose library collection was damaged by Hurricane Irene - Photo Edward Leonard

“Scholastic Books has a program called ‘One for Books,’” Kiser explained. “For every $1 donated, Scholastic matches the monetary donations schools generate, with a donation of up to one million books to three national non-profit organizations dedicated to helping kids and families in need.”

Kiser said that the program benefits three groups; Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc., The Kids In Need Foundation, and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

Kiser said that each year, thousands of schools across the country participate in the “One for Books” program and Scholastic matches the monetary donations that each school generates.  What makes the program even more attractive is that the profit from the expected $3,400 in sales generated from the JWMS Book Fair stays with Johnson Williams Middle School. Kiser said that JWMS hits at least $3000 in sales the profit is 60% which Kiser will can elect to receive as a Scholastic voucher or take 30% in cash.

However, Pamlico County Schools will not be the first school system to benefit from Kiser’s creative giving habit. When Hurricane Katrina submerged Mississippi’s Meridian Middle School under a twenty-foot storm surge in 2005 the entire school was destroyed. Kiser said that although the Meridian Middle School had insurance to cover its main book collection, hundreds of damaged paperback books were not insured.

“Meridian lost its entire paperback collection,” Kiser said. “We were able to use the ‘One for Books’ to send them three copies of 75 different titles that teachers distributed to students prior to the end of the school year. I think that it meant a lot to that community.”

This year marks the sixth Johnson Williams Middle School book fair that Kiser has orchestrated. During the six years that the fair has taken place Kiser says that over $16,000 of profit has been generated for the middle school library. Even so, the profit to students from the lessons of good citizenship may not be quite as easily calculated.

The JWMS Book Fair will feature hundreds of titles for all ages - Photo Edward Leonard

“Taking a small amount of the proceeds from our Book Fair to help another school just seems like a good thing to do,” said Kiser.

The Johnson Williams Middle School Book Fair offers hundreds of books and novelty items for all ages and begins on Monday, October 3rd and continues until Friday, October 7th. Hours of operation are 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The Book Fair offers Family Nights on October 3rd and October 6th with extended hours from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Items may be purchased by cash, check or credit card.


  1. Kudos to some of the unsung heroes of society, librarians. They are the gatekeepers of our democracy and work for low pay, yet give so much to our communities.

    Paul Harris
    Author, “Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina”