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PTA working to add books to TJ’s library

Walmart Foundation donated $700

The Thomas Jefferson PTA received a $700 donation from the Walmart Foundation to help put new books in the school’s library.
The Thomas Jefferson PTA received a $700 donation from the Walmart Foundation to help put new books in the school’s library.

The library at Thomas Jefferson Elementary was expected to have a shortage of new books this year, but with the school receiving its second donation, new titles are planned to reach the hands of students.

The Parents Teacher Association received a $700 donation from the Walmart Foundation through a community grant program last month. TJ PTA secretary Britney Schnathorst said they applied for a Quality of Life grant, which is meant to improve students’ access to recreation, arts or cultural experiences.

This donation followed a $2,000 donation in December from the school’s PTA, which also helped supplement the cost of new literature. Most of the library’s annual budget this year went to renewing Alexandria, a software program that allows the library to track all of the books in their collection, leaving $305 in the budget to purchase new books this school year.

“This grant was particularly appealing as we found that many nation-wide grants for library books gave priority to schools and communities,” Schnathorst said.

TJ PTA’s three officers are Principal Financial Group employees, vice president Lisa Sinnwell, treasurer Kristi Meyer and Schnathorst, and they have compiled several ways to raise money for their children’s school through their full-time jobs.

Through the Dollars for Doers Program, for every 25 hours a Principal employee volunteers for an organization, Principal gives the organization $250, subject to a $1,000 maximum per person annually.

Schnathorst said through board meetings, book fairs, PTA-sponsored school activities and fundraisers such as box tops and Coca-Cola, the PTA members have had no problem logging in those hours.

“We are hoping to max them out each year we serve,” Schnathorst said.

In addition, the officers started a program specifically for the library book project. Through Dollars for Teams, an event must be registered and include a team of five or more Principal employees, three of which are full time employees. Funding is subject to $500 per project, with a $2,000 maximum per year.

“If there are other Principal employees in the community who’d like to join us on these projects, we’d love it,” Schnathorst said.

TJ’s PTA officers believe they are on the right track to adding hundreds of books to the 11,000 collection already at the library.

“All of our kids go to TJ and we work at Principal, and when we got voted in as officers we knew we could make a difference,” Schnathorst said. “I think it just made us all happy when we saw this new program, and it was pretty exciting when we saw how it could benefit our school.”

The PTA is also hoping they can host a fundraiser with an eye toward increasing their overall contribution to $6,000. The library books, which carry a special binding that’s guaranteed for life typically cost between $12-15 each, librarian Pam Ferguson said. The company that supplies the books will replace books if they become damaged during use, an important quality for a library book, she said.

“I think it’s exciting we are working toward a goal because we didn’t know there was such a need until this fall,” Schnathorst said. “To already come up with over half of what they asked for I think is pretty exciting, we are hoping to fulfill their whole request if we can.”

The students at TJ make the PTA’s job worth the while when they witness their attitudes toward each other, according to Schnathorst.

“I think the biggest thing is they are taught respect and how to treat each other, and it shows through with how polite they are and well-behaved,” Schnathorst said. “That is the teachers and administration’s focus.”

Contact Kayla Singletary at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or

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