kdpWe don’t know his name, or his older sister’s, but it still moved us when the boy in this photo exclaimed, “I love Dr. Seuss! Daddy can I take this one?” As the boy clumsily pulled the Seuss book from the station we had just inaugurated, his sister found one, too. This year’s Kappa Delta Pi Literacy Alive! project brought many such moments to the members of the Chi Beta Chapter at Chapman University and our community.

Each year, the chapters of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) International Honor Society in Education at universities across the world connect around a literacy campaign called Literacy Alive! KDP members “create programs and events in their communities that bring empowering literacy skills to their participants.” This year, over 150 projects serving 57,052 people and distributing 44,625 books were conducted. As a chapter, Chi Beta partnered with a local initiative: Operation Literacy Engaging Everyone (Operation L.E.E.) in Anaheim, California.

Operation L.E.E. is “a group of community members out to promote literacy and spread the love of reading in our community by providing book stations with free books.” Started as a vision of local educators, the book stations are filled with donated books that anyone can borrow, take or donate. Operation L.E.E now has five book stations and hopes to grow throughout Anaheim and other interested cities.

kdp2KDP’s first adventure with Operation L.E.E. was at South Junior High’s Service Day last January, where Chapman’s KDP members were taught how to make the stations by the junior high students. Their woodshop teacher, Chapman alumni Matthew Bidwell, guided Chapman students around the classroom where his 7th and 8th showed them their mastery of carpentry. As future educators, we talked about how it reminded us that our students will always be our greatest teachers, and that our classrooms can be spaces for doing good. KDP members also helped sort over 500 donated books, prompting a recognition of our community’s generosity and spirit.

As book donations rolled in they were collected at the home of Operation L.E.E. Leader Juan Alvarez’s home. A local educator and parent, Juan welcomed a collaboration with Chapman and KDP members helped distribute books to book stations around Anaheim. KDP also hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for Operation L.E.E. at the location of the first official book station. Here, Operation L.E.E. was presented with congressional recognition from congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and the book stations officially went live.

In recognition of the success of Literacy Engaging Everyone (L.E.E.), KDP International awarded Chapman’s Chi Beta chapter with a Silver Award. As the project continues to grow, you can help by donating books, providing funds or materials to build more book stations, or volunteer to host a book station at your home or business (contact: operationleeoc@gmail.com).

Itkdp4 was exciting for Chapman students to be a part of supporting local educators who are moving beyond their classrooms to make an even greater impact in their community. We were able to practice engaged citizenship as we helped a model program started by local educators, blossom into reality. In addition to strengthening our relationship with one of our local schools in Anaheim, we also got to develop new partnerships with other collaborating organizations such as Los Amigos de Orange County and the Anaheim Public Library.

Towards the end of the ribbon cutting ceremony, we had our serendipitous young visitors. They were our first book station clients and they knew exactly what to do without any prompting. We saw meaning in our project, and we could envision many such moments happening at this book station and at the others around the city. Operation L.E.E. had come to life, and Chapman’s Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education helped make it so.