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Textbook donations exceed expectations

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–While the initial days after the tornado that hit Union University Feb. 5 were filled with frantic trips to stores to replace necessities like underwear and toothbrushes, now students face new, more costly items that must be replaced — textbooks.

Steve Baker, director of Union’s Emma Waters Summar Library, said he is confident the university community will reach its goal for all students to have their textbooks replaced by the second week of classes, which began again Feb. 20.

Andy Morris, manager of the LifeWay bookstore located on the Jackson, Tenn., campus, contacted publishers soon after the storm, asking them to send a copy of each textbook so the library could have them on reserve for students during the first week classes. By Feb. 20, approximately 80 percent of those textbooks were in place.

During the first few days of classes, students will be asked which books they still are missing so they can be ordered.

LifeWay Christian Resources has donated $350,000 to Union, with $100,000 of the donation earmarked to help with textbook replacement. Baker said that if a particular textbook is not donated, a student needing that textbook can pick it up at LifeWay free of charge.

Alex Scarbrough, a junior political science major, began a student-led initiative to get the word out to students and schools about needed textbooks. Scarbrough, who is working as an intern in Nashville this semester, said she started praying about how she could help when she heard about the tornado. She decided to compile a list of needed textbooks, and that list is now posted on uurecovery.com.

Scarbrough also has enlisted others to send the list to other colleges and universities. Claude Pressnell, Jr., president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, sent the information to various schools. Donna Morgan, internship coordinator for the Tennessee legislature, sent the information to state schools in Tennessee. The national headquarters of the Kappa Delta sorority, of which Scarbrough is a member, is sending the information to all its chapters nationwide. Steve Baker has sent information about needed textbooks to library directors of colleges and universities affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

A group of Union professors launched a third initiative, contacting publishers about sending replacement textbooks for their classes.

Not all textbooks were lost, however. Cynthia Jayne, Union’s associate provost for international and intercultural studies, coordinated recovery teams that searched through the rubble of residence halls for student belongings. She said they found more textbooks than they expected and commended those who helped in the retrieval effort.

“We did pull a lot of books out of dorms,” Jayne said. “People just wouldn’t quit. They were great.”

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  • Jessica Vanderpool