TALLADEGA -- This week, more than 2,600 books were donated to every second-grader enrolled in the Talladega City school system as part of the third “Pages from Pam” book collection fundraiser.
The annual campaign was spearheaded by Auburn University freshmen Hayden Burch in honor of his late aunt, Pam Reaves Peters, a longtime elementary teacher for Talladega City Schools.
Burch, along with family and friends, distributed 190 book satchels, beginning at R.L. Young and Salter elementary schools Thursday. They will conclude with stops at Graham and Houston elementary schools Friday.
“Each second-grader received 14 new books and their own satchel made by the Alabama Industries for the Blind,” Burch said.
Burch said he was careful to select books that were approved for the system’s Accelerated Reader program.
Burch also divided the books specifically to boys and girls.
“The first year were able to give each second-grader 10 books, but each year it has grown,” he said. “My first initial idea to honor her memory was just to donate some books to a library, but it has become so much more. I’ve had a lot of support, especially from the Talladega community. They, along with my family, have helped make all of this possible.”
When asked why he chose a book campaign to honor his aunt, Burch said, in an earlier interview, “Her entire life was devoted to teaching. She loved reading and had a compassion for collecting books for her students. For many of the students, these will be the first books ever in their homes. Having books in the home greatly increases the opportunity for literacy.”
Peters died suddenly May 26, 2015, at the age of 55, after being diagnosed with cancer. Her death came not long after she retired from the school system. She spent most of her career as a second-grade teacher at Graham Elementary.
“The past couple of years, the second-graders have received a combination of donated books and new books,” Patti Burch, Hayden’s mother and Pam’s sister said. “This year, the program shifted to all new books. Many people worked to make this happen, including the Talladega County Volunteer Program, the Tim Hudson Foundation, the Drew Middle School Beta Club and more. The largest contributions came from our fundraiser held at the Talladega Bottling Works last November. -- It’s something the community has really rallied behind, and we want to thank everyone for their support.”
Added R. L. Young Principal Linda Haynes, “I think it’s wonderful what Hayden and his family have continued to do for the school system.
“Pam was an amazing teacher and really cared about her students. They are keeping her legacy alive through sharing her story and love of reading. I’m so glad we get to honor her in this way.”
PattiBurch noted the campaign’s GoFundMe is still in operation, and the book collection process has already started for next year.
Those interested may donate at www.gofundme.com/pagesfrompam.