Stillwater News Press


July 12, 2010

Making a Difference 7-11-10

Debbie Higgins leads Altrusa International of Stillwater to give books to kids

STILLWATER, Okla. — A treat for her granddaughter’s kindergarten class led Stillwater resident Debbie Higgins to suggest a new service project to her fellow Altrusans.

When her granddaughter’s class was ordering books through Scholastic, Higgins said, she ordered books herself as “a good grandmother.” When she went online, she noticed Scholastic had some inexpensive books.

“I thought that I wanted to order a book for every child in her class, so that’s what I did,” she said. “It brought the children such pleasure that when we (Altrusa International of Stillwater) started think about a new project, I thought, one, literacy and about how my granddaughter’s class enjoyed the books, and I thought about how we could do that on a larger scale as a club.”

A little more than a year ago, the Altrusan approached the club’s incoming president Saundra Shenold about proposing a project to buy a book for each kindergarten and first-grade student in Stillwater Public Schools.

“She said, ‘This is so adamant to me and so close to my heart that if Altrusa doesn’t want to do it, I’m doing it on my own,’” Shenold said.

The club agreed and at the meeting when Higgins proposed the BOOKS Project, they gave about $900 to kick it off, Shenold said.

During the 2009-10 school year, they gave about 1,000 books to about 50 classrooms in the six Stillwater elementary schools. They raised $5,600, Higgins said, and also gave away about $750 worth of school supplies to kindergarten and first-grade teachers at a reception in the fall.

Altrusans originally planned to give books to the three Title I schools in Stillwater, Higgins said, thinking they would not have enough money to give to all six elementary schools. The $5,600 raised in nine months, however, allowed them to give to each school, she added.

Although she proposed the project, Higgins is quick to give credit for its success to other Altrusans, saying that 100 percent of the club’s members participated.

“Even though I might have been instrumental in helping get it established, we could not have done what we did without every one of our members in our club,” she said.

Shenold, however, said Higgins’s leadership helped make the BOOKS project a success.

“She put so much of herself in it,” Shenold said. “That’s what made it work. We got to ride on her shirttail.”

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