By U.S. Air Force Capt. Darrick B. Lee
Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines Public Affairs
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (Sept. 27, 2011) – Members of the Philippine Air Force gave a boost to the Edwin Andrews Air Base Elementary School reading program Sept. 27 with the installation of new bookshelves and the arrival of books donated from U.S. forces.
The Philippine Air Force’s 530th Air Base Wing worked with members of U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P) to fill the school’s library with new books.
“We’ve done civil-military operations with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) before, but it’s usually in someplace more remote,” said Gipper, who works at the elementary school (EAAB) with the Philippine forces.
“We figured since we live at EAAB, we should try to find a way to do something for the kids here,” she added. “We talked to the PAF and they told us about the school’s needs. Then we began collecting book donations.”
Gipper and a friend, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Erica Anders, a flight nurse with JSOTF-P, created a personal Facebook page to solicit donations. Shortly afterward, books began flowing in from all over the world.
Some of the books came from as far away as the United States; others came from places in the Pacific, such as Japan. According to Gipper, many people ordered them online and had them shipped to the volunteers directly.
A variety of titles arrived, ranging from picture books for kindergartners to more advanced storybooks for intermediate readers.
As the book collection grew, the school realized it needed more space to display them. Engineers from the 530th Air Base Wing’s civil-military operations squadron at EAAB built new bookcases for the library. U.S. Navy Seabees donated lumber to help the engineers make the bookshelves.
The volunteers joined Mrs. Victoria Mangeser, the school’s principal, in an informal ceremony to present the new books to the students. Mangeser then invited Anders and other volunteers to read to some of the children.
When the children were asked to choose which book should be read, the majority of the students yelled “Dora” after seeing a storybook bearing a picture of the popular television character. According to the school, many local libraries need books that promote leisure reading, instead of traditional schoolbooks. With more than 500 students at the school, the donations were well-received.