First grade students at Ray School in Kearny, Arizona receive a handmade bookcase and at least two books. Each child, annually, receives an additional two books (through the third grade) to store in their bookcase. The Rotary Club of Kearny started this program to encourage young students to read, since many come from homes where there are no books. For many years, the Club helped to finance and construct the bookcases.
When the Rotary Club backed away from the program, SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) began providing an annual grant to buy the books and the materials for the bookcases. At first, Kearny-area woodworking/shop class students built the bookcases. Then, prisoners in Florence were paid to build them. Finally, SaddleBrooke Ranch residents who enjoy woodworking volunteered their talent and time to build the bookcases. This is the third consecutive year that Ranchers have built bookcases for these elementary school students.
This year, 26 sturdy, beautifully built bookcases were delivered to the school in Kearny. SBCO and the first graders of Ray School are grateful to the residents of SaddleBrooke Ranch who so generously contributed their skills and resources to support this program: Jeff Hansen, Dan Carter, Eric Taylor, John Gordon, Scott Saxon, Ron Gustafson, Mark Prose, Sam Rossi, and head builder, Barry Milner.
The students in Kearny value the bookcases and books they receive as first graders. High school students have reported that they are still using their bookcases, adding to their book collection over the course of their education.