Students seeking book donations for Whittier school

Resident assistants at Western Carolina University’s Reynolds Hall are seeking donations for a free book fair they are hosting Friday, Nov. 18, at Smokey Mountain Elementary in Whittier. Here, Reynolds resident assistants Anastasia Carlson, Jean Bowen, Brandon Wilson, Beth DeSantis and Casey Quinn organize books according to grade level.

The resident assistants and other students who call Reynolds Hall home on the Western Carolina University campus are several hundred books shy of meeting a book-drive goal.

The goal is to have 1,000 books by Thursday, Nov. 17, for delivery to children at Smokey Mountain Elementary School in Whittier on Friday, Nov. 18, said Jean Bowen, a Reynolds resident assistant and a WCU senior majoring in elementary education. The tally as of Thursday, Nov. 10, stood at approximately 600, Bowen said.

“The more books we have, the better variety the students can choose from,” said Bowen, one of the “free book fair” organizers. Organizers are requesting new and used books or money for books. A bin outside of Reynolds Hall, on the upper portion of the WCU campus, is set up for book collection, and project organizers also will pick up books. Members of the campus community and beyond are invited to contribute, Bowen said. There is a need especially for books appropriate for middle school students, she said. (Smokey Mountain also includes middle school as well as elementary grades.)

The project grew from a stipulation that WCU resident assistants perform a day of community service. “We wanted to do something that was larger than just meeting a requirement,” Bowen said. Students living in Reynolds have gotten involved, and students in neighboring Central Hall contributed to a penny drive to help raise money to buy books. Students have asked for contributions from local booksellers, with City Lights Bookstore in Sylva and Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville both contributing, and from thrift stores.

The Reynolds resident assistants “went beyond the call of duty with this project,” said Annaleise Camacho, assistant resident director for Reynolds Hall. “During RA training, the resident assistants heard about the concept of ‘leaving your legacy,’ and they truly embraced that concept with their community service project.”

For more information, contact Bowen at or 828-227-4642.