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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jamie Tanzer, 7, is One for the Books

jamie100a.jpg
Honored guest: Jamie Tanzer Contributed photo
By James Lomuscio

Jamie Tanzer, a 7-year-old Westporter, recently had an opportunity that few adults, let alone children, do.

She received a special invitation to a ribbon cutting ceremony with U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) at a new elementary school library in Mount Vernon, N.Y

“I kind of felt proud,” said Jamie, who attended the event two weeks ago with her mother Nancy Judson. “When we went to the thing, I was the youngest kid there.”

The honor for Jamie,  who will enter third grade at Westport’s Coleytown Elementary School in the fall, and her mom, too, stemmed from a newspaper article her mother read.

It led to them being instrumental in raising funds and collecting books for the impoverished library at Mount Vernon’s Edward Williams Elementary School.

“I had read an article last year in the New York Times about an elementary school in Mount Vernon, and the gist of it was that their library was horrible,” said Judson.

“The books they had basically stopped at 1960. They had no books about computers, even no books about African Americans, which is what the population of that school had become.”

Judson said she read the article to Jamie, “and it made us so sad we decided to do something.” So the two collected all of their own books, searched out books for sale at the Westport Public Library, even filled up the equivalent of a shopping cart at Barnes & Noble.

And over last summer Jamie and her mother sold lemonade in town and raised as much as $500 that they sent along with cartons of books to the school.

Judson said she was not the only one who had been moved by the article. Funds poured in for the library to buy computers, and about 9,600 new texts were donated.

Judson said she and Jamie, while thrilled about being invited to the ribbon cutting, wanted to be low key about their involvement. Judson instead wrote a letter to Jamie’s teacher who then passed it on to Coleytown Principal Kay May who alerted the media.

“Your class should know that one person can make a difference and that, thanks to Jamie�s efforts, and the efforts of kids like her, the school received 9,600 books donated to them, and received thousands of dollars for shelving, painting, carpentry, media centers and more,” Judson wrote.

“The kids are able, for the very first time, to take out books, and to have access to books that other kids take for granted like Harry Potter and Dr. Seuss.”

For Jamie, the trip to Mount Vernon was also an eye opener.

“When I went into the library it was all new and clean,” said Jamie, “but when I looked at the school it looked very poor, not like the one I go to.”

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Posted 06/28/05 at 03:11 AM  Permalink



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