Login | April 23, 2019

Summit judge organizes a children’s book drive

Summit County Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer recently organized a children's book drive at the common pleas and Akron Municipal courts. Over 500 books were donated. Pictured here from the left are Summit County Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer (top row), Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Amy Corrigall Jones (top row) and Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield (front). (Photo courtesy of the Summit County Probate Court).  

Legal News Reporter

Published: September 14, 2018

Many students across the United States spent at least part of their summer vacation reading, but for children living in low-income households that might not have been an option.

Studies show children in low-income families don’t have the same access to books and other reading materials as those from middle- and upper-income families.

It’s a problem that Summit County Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer became aware of in June while serving as a guest reader for Billy Booth’s Arts & Science Factory program at The Salvation Army of Summit County.

The summer program focuses on teaching reading, arts, music, STEM and agricultural skills to children ages 6 through 12.

“I am a former member of The Salvation Army advisory board so they invited me back to do the reading on June 11, which was the first day of the program,” said Judge Stormer. “I read the book ‘Poppy’ by Avi.

“While I was there I mentioned to someone that it is so nice that the children get to take the book home with them and I was told that it might be the only book in their home.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I am a word person and I could not imagine not having access to books.

“It occurred to me that people such as myself might have children’s books in their homes that they are no longer using,” said Judge Stormer.

When she returned to the courthouse, the judge said she decided to organize a book drive.

She reached out to several common pleas court judges along with Akron Municipal Court Judge Nicole Walker to see if they would be willing to put boxes outside their courtrooms where people could deposit new or gently used children’s books.

“Everyone loved the idea,” said Judge Stormer.

Lisa Mansfield, community outreach specialist at Summit County Probate Court, set up the boxes on July 2.

“We put four boxes in the common pleas court and one in municipal court,” said Mansfield.

Summit County Common Pleas Court judges Amy Corrigall Jones, Christine Croce and Joy Malek Oldfield all participated in the drive, as did Judge Stormer and Judge Walker.

“We asked people to bring in books that they enjoyed reading with their own children, but were no longer using,” said Mansfield.

“It was amazing how quickly those boxes filled up due to the generosity of the judges, employees and people visiting the court.”

When the drive ended on July 27, over 500 books had been collected for children in pre-K through sixth grade.

“I’m happy to have participated in such a worthwhile program,” said Judge Croce.

“I’m so proud to have played a small role in providing the gift of reading for children without books,” said Judge Oldfield. “Reading is so fundamental for the growth of a child. In fact children who read well do better in every other class.”

Judge Corrigall Jones said when she was asked to participate in the book drive she took time to “reflect on how fortunate we all are in our place in life. Something that may seem so small to us, like a donation of a child’s book, can be such a worthwhile gift to someone else,” she said.

“I am grateful that they asked me to be involved in such a meaningful cause and more importantly I am thrilled by the response from our legal community,” said Judge Corrigall Jones. “Summit County is a wonderful place and this book drive is just another example of the caring compassion of our legal community.”

Akron Municipal Court Judge Nicole Walker said when she first set up the box she wasn’t sure they would be able to fill it.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Akron Municipal Court, we filled the box two times and it was a very large box,” said Judge Walker. “There were many times that books were waiting by our door for us in the morning. 

“It was a great cause and I was very happy to participate,” Judge Walker said. “It was fun to see all the new children’s books that have come out since I was a child.”

During the first week of August, Mansfield delivered the books to The Salvation Army of Summit County, Summit County Children Services and ACCESS Inc.’s shelter.

Maj. Kevin Jackson, area coordinator of The Salvation Army of Summit County said the books will be distributed to children in the after-school program throughout the fall.

“The children in the after-school program are the same ones who participated in Billy Booth’s Arts & Science Factory program,” said Jackson.

“We are very grateful to Judge Stormer. Not only did she read to our children but her effort provided us with valuable resources,” Jackson said.

“Receiving these books means that we don’t have to use scarce resources to purchase books and can use the money to fund other aspects of our program.”