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College of Education Literacy Clinic Providing Assistance to Victims of Alabama Tornadoes

by Brad Duncan

photo of Christine Mallozzi
Christine Mallozzi

When a devastating storm system passed through Alabama with tornadoes leaving much destruction in their wake, many were affected, including local schools that lost, among other things, the supplies needed during the course of a normal school day. Thanks to an effort by Lisa Scherff and the University of Alabama Belser-Parton Literacy Center, Tuscaloosa schools will soon have replenished supplies.

Scherff and her graduate students created a Facebook event titled Books for Bama, a drive for school supplies and books. While their immediate need is school supplies, the group’s long-term goal is to restock all the personal libraries of the impacted students and their families. Students, colleagues and friends around the country have answered the call, including the faculty and staff of the University of Kentucky College of Education’s Literacy Clinic.

“When Dr. Scherff’s post went out on Facebook for donations of simple school supplies and books to replace personal libraries, I was struck by the realization that these people were robbed of even the comfort and normalcy of leafing through a favorite book,” said Christine Mallozzi, assistant professor of literacy in the UK College of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction and director of the college’s Literacy Clinic. “I just looked at our clinic library and said, ‘We don’t have much, but we have so much more than those who lost everything.’ From one literacy center to another, from our university to theirs, I knew we had to help.”

Two elementary schools and one K-8 school were destroyed. Also, several major neighborhoods that feed entire school clusters (elementary, middle and high schools) were impacted. To assist the rebuilding, Books for Bama is looking for the following items:

  • Crayons, markers, coloring books, pencils/pens
  • Construction paper, safety scissors
  • Hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues
  • Backpacks, notebooks
  • Books for all ages (including Young Adult novels, magazines, books for adults, alphabet books, etc.)

“I am blown away by the support,” Scherff said. “This tragedy has somehow hit the nation in a way that I can’t remember others doing. I heard that we had 30,000 sign up to volunteer in the first two days after the tornado. I see truckload after truckload of students helping out. They are coming from all over the country. I’ve had donations from as far away as New Mexico.”

Mallozzi and her colleagues will gather on Friday, May 6, to pull supplies from the Literacy Clinic that will be sent to Alabama. Also, anyone can can drop off donations to the Books for Bama box in 335 Dickey Hall (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday) until Friday, May 13. However, the donation drive will continue through the summer months. Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so by sending supplies or financial contributions (checks should be made payable to the University of Alabama with a note that it is for the Belser-Parton Literacy Center) directly to the organization. The group’s mailing address is:

The Bleser-Parton Literacy Center
204 Carmichael Hall
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0231

The UK College of Education Literacy Clinic is dedicated to improving literacy in Lexington and the surrounding areas through three programs focused on youth, family and adult literacy. The programs provide support and instruction to struggling readers, their families and those in need of adult basic education. For more information, please visit https://education.uky.edu/edc/literacy/clinic/ or call (859) 257-9742.