Community service is a skill that many student clubs make a focus. West McDowell Middle School Student Council is turning that focus into a reality.

The Book Brigade, a committee started by eighth grader and Student Council President Jesse Barrier, recently donated a couple hundred children’s books to the Friendship Home for Women and Children.

“We saw a need at the women’s shelter and wanted to provide them with books,” Barrier said of his idea to distribute the first batch of books to The Friendship Home, a long-term residence for women and children of all ages.

Barrier started The Book Brigade committee with hopes to bridge the gap to accessible and age-appropriate books in short- and long-term stay facilities in the community. The first donation of books included a variety of genres and reading levels, from early reader board books and chapter books to adult novels.

“Books are a gateway to not only intellectual nourishment but also comfort at what can be a very stressful and often lonely time,” said Melissa Strother, WMMS student council advisor.

What started as a book collection project is now turning into a revitalization project for both the inside and outside children’s play areas. Bookshelves have been built by Jacob Gorecki, career technical teacher, for the recently donated books. When students return in the fall, Student Council plans to revamp the inside children’s common area and the outside children’s play area.

The Friendship Home for Women and Children provides women the opportunity to get back on their feet socially, financially and spiritually. The home can house up to 43 women and children.

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