By Alexa Vigliotta        

The Democracy and Media Literacy classes of Andover High School sponsored a school-wide book drive for ‘Project Home Again’ during the week of Sept. 18 to help less fortunate families in Lawrence.

Project Home Again is an organization started by local woman Nancy Kanell, who collects appliances and household items for sexually abused women looking to begin a new life with their children. The organization is affiliated with social service agencies in the Merrimack Valley area and run by a staff of 25 volunteers who serve thousands of families per year. The book drive was a success in the eyes of Brian Parker, whose class was in charge of the event and collected a total of 2,586 books, which surpassed a target goal of 1,500.

“Here’s that book that they love so much and that’s life-changing,” said Parker of the children that benefitted from the donations. “It brings back that comfort and security blanket that was such a good feeling.” Andover High School adopted the cause for their community service project, which Parker assigns to encourage “good citizenship.”

Junior Jacky Wang also endorses the benefits of helping the less fortunate: “The book drive is a good thing since the economy has been at a disadvantage lately and some people don’t have access to books,” says Wang. “Books are a great source of information and in today’s society you need knowledge to survive. Being well educated is a necessity.”

Parker, a veteran in the art of fund raising, continuously inspires his students to actively participate in society. Parker strongly believes that taking advantage of opportunities that help out the community nurtures a sense of self-satisfaction and self-worth: “It’s infectious,” adds Parker of the feeling of giving back. “Everybody wins.”

According to Lauren Grams, a student in Parker’s class who advertised and promoted the event, “Successful events depend on the season, and what you try to gain and inspire among the student-body.” A regular volunteer for the organization, Grams says, “Project Home Again was introduced to me by a close family friend, and ever since I have first helped out, I’ve donated anything I can because it’s an amazing cause.”

“The fund-raiser was a huge success and inspiration,” agrees Sarah Appleton, a senior, “It was a well-advertised event and the senior class set a great example by donating the most books.”

Seniors donated more than 1,000 books, with juniors supplying 628; sophomores, 381; and freshmen, another 94. Faculty and staff contributed an additional 413.

Dr. Luz Valverde, one of the school’s three assistant principals, donated about ten books. “I believe it’s very important to help out an organization when you can,” she said.

Additional reporting provided by Natasha Gomez.