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Book Drive Seeks to Help Los Angeles High School

Oct 11, 2023 08:55AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Got any student-appropriate books you are willing to part with? A book drive in Manhattan Beach this weekend aims to help build book collections in classrooms at a Los Angeles high school - and beyond.

The book drive for Animo South Los Angeles High School (ASLA) has multiple Manhattan Beach connections: Mira Costa High School alumna Erin Starr is a longtime teacher at the high school.  The drive is being organized by Single Mom Project founder Janet Jones along with Mira Costa High School student Katherine Jester, both of whom are Manhattan Beach Library Commission members. And Manhattan Beach resident Ruben Mendez, who owns the trucking company EEB/Ross International, is donating a truck and driver to transport the books.

Starr has been at ASLA for 13 years and currently teaches 10th grade World History and AP World History.

"We don’t have a central library as our school is quite small," Starr told MB News. "We do have books in our English classrooms, but they are mostly the novels that students read with the curriculum for each grade. I have a full shelf of history books that have been accumulated over the years, but most of them are not very interesting to my students as they tend towards the more textbook style. I would say there are overall a small handful of classrooms with books for students to read for pleasure."

Although ASLA is a high school, the book drive is welcoming books for students of all ages. 

"We have a feeder middle school down the street - Animo Legacy - that we could gift some of the books to, or I was thinking that we could wrap the books and have students give them to younger siblings/family during the holidays," said Starr. "Either way, I would work with the Panther Student Government and have it be a student-led initiative."

Are students looking for any certain kinds of books in particular? "Our students enjoy books across the full spectrum," said Starr. "We have a Manga/Anime club on campus so I know students would enjoy that genre, as well as students that enjoy everything from poetry to fantasy and fiction to philosophy. There really is so much diversity among our school body that I know students will be able to find something that matches their interest."

The book drive came about through conversations between Starr and Jones, whose families are longtime friends. Jones and her sons are the founders of the Single Mom Project, a nonprofit that provides grants to low-income single-parent families to help them get on their feet financially. 

"When we became aware of the immense need for books in LA area schools, we decided to broaden our scope and hold the first-ever Single Mom Project Book Drive," said Jones. "It’s another way the South Bay can uplift families in deserving communities."

"I have always been so inspired by Janet due to the incredible work she does not only for the Manhattan Beach community but others as well," said Starr. 

The book drive will take place on Saturday and Sunday between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. There will be two drop-off locations: 815 3rd Street or 3009 Palm Ave. in Manhattan Beach.

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