JMU Athletics and HCPS partner for book drive bringing diverse stories to younger students

Bus with Harrisonburg City Public Schools (FILE)
Bus with Harrisonburg City Public Schools (FILE)(WHSV)
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 11:40 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - James Madison University (JMU) Athletics and Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) are hosting a book drive with stories that highlight diverse backgrounds.

Each kindergarten and Pre-K student will get their choice of one of the following books: “A Paint Brush for Paco,” “Saffron Ice Cream” and “That’s My Friend!”

“As a department, we put together a diversity council to try and combat some of the things that were going on but also tried to promote and educate people on diversity, inclusion and equity,” explained Marcus Hall-Oliver, JMU assistant football coach.

“That’s My Friend!” was written by JMU alum Vad Lee. All the books tell stories that highlight different languages, food and unity.

“The earlier you start, the better. You start those educational pieces. Over the summer, everyone was confused there was a lot of frustration, anger. All of the conversations that I was having all stemmed back to one thing and that was just education,” Hall-Oliver said.

Vice Mayor Sal Romero is the director of equity and community engagement for Harrisonburg City Public Schools. He says when someone reads a story they can identify and connect with, it makes a big difference.

“Not only culturally, but also linguistically. It really hits a core in one person when it really reflects some of your experiences and actually have some connections to the people in the stories,” Romero explained.

At the beginning of next month, Hall-Oliver says members of the JMU football team will deliver the books to students. You can support the JMU/HCPS Book Drive by clicking here.

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