Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Gets Books A-Plenty; Businesses Help Upson Collect Donations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

School Gets Books A-Plenty; Businesses Help Upson Collect Donations

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

Ruth N. Upson Elementary School was in need of books. So the Murray Hill school's principal turned to the Edgewood Bakery for help.

A bakery?

You bet.

Edgewood is noted for its prize-winning gingerbread men, cheese and raspberry coffee cake, apricot-stuffed puffed pastry, caramel apple cupcakes and other delectables.

Now it's also known for spearheading the collection of more than 400 books for Upson's nearly bare classroom coffers.

After learning of the need, owner Gary Polletta agreed to set up a collection box at his bakery at 1022 Edgewood Ave. S., where customers could drop off new and used books in exchange for a cup of coffee.

Peggy Kring, Upson's principal, turned to Polletta because he is a business partner and a school advisory committee member. Upson is a Title 1 school, with 70 percent of its students on the free and reduced lunch program.

"Many don't have books at home, and we don't have money in the budget to buy the amount we need," Kring said.

Moreover, the nearby Murray Hill branch library is closed for renovation. And though there are books in the Dancy Street school's media center, there are few in its classrooms.

Polletta enlisted the aid of other businesses. Pat Cyrus, owner of Flowers by Pat on Edgewood Avenue, pitched in $100 for new books. Both Cyrus and Robert Travis, owner of Travis Chiropractic Center on Herschel Street, also set up collection boxes.

Polletta, who is on the Murray Hill Preservation Association board, brought up the need at a meeting, and the group donated $400 to purchase new books.

Polletta said he feels a personal stake in the project because he lives in Murray Hill and has two grandchildren at the school. He plans to do it again next year.

Ideally, each classroom needs about 500 books because of the school system's emphasis on reading, Kring said. …

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