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UTSA Libraries Donate Hundreds of Educational Materials to Haven for Hope

By Stephanie Sanchez, Communications Specialist

More than 200 homeless children will get an extra push in learning after their temporary home received hundreds of educational materials from the UTSA Libraries last month.

About 60 boxes of flash cards; games; dry erase boards; books about math, science, English and other subjects; and additional teaching tools were donated to Haven for Hope, a 15-building, 37-acre transitional living campus west of Downtown San Antonio. The shelter needed the materials after recently building a family room with a library for its residents.

"This is the first time we receive a massive donation of educational materials. We're going to stock our new library with all the books the UTSA Libraries has donated," said Christina Horvath, a case manager with Haven for Hope. "This is like Christmas – Christmas times 10. It's so exciting to be able to offer books – and not just any books, but educationally sound books – to our families. This is an enormous gift."

The shelter mainly receives private donations, and it's difficult to accommodate all the needs of its more than 900 residents, especially the children, Horvath said.

"When books are $4, $5 apiece, they are not a priority," she said. "To be able to give books away, so we don't have to buy them with money out of our own pockets or take money out of another service is huge."

Haven for Hope provides its residents with counseling, housing subsidies, job-related training, vocational education and other services.

Each year, about 25,000 people experience homelessness in San Antonio. Of that number, 25 percent are children, and half of the children are under age 5, according to the Haven for Hope website.

Most of the materials donated to the shelter are great for young children, said Posie Aagaard, assistant dean for collections and curriculum support, who helped setup the donation. Roberta Astroff, head of the Downtown Library, made the initial contact with Haven for Hope staff.

“The materials include little readers — personalized stories that a young child would want to sit down and read. Some of them are in English and some are in Spanish. There are even a few puppets. It’s just fun stuff,” Aagaard said. “We couldn’t think of a better way to find a home for these materials.”

The educational materials were duplicate and former years’ supplies given to the UTSA Libraries by the Education Service Center, Region 20 for the College of Education’s student teachers

Each year, the center gives the Libraries copies of newly state-mandated textbooks and teaching supplies. The Libraries then replace all the old materials in its stacks with new materials for student use.

The old materials are always put back to good use by being donated to various public libraries and organizations nationwide.

The Libraries learned about the shelter’s needs from Misty Sailor, an associate professor of interdisciplinary learning and teaching at UTSA. She heads the Read Malawi project, an international humanitarian effort that provides educational materials and teacher training to improve literacy rates of children in Africa.

Krisellen Maloney, dean of the UTSA Libraries, said donating the books and educational materials to Haven for Hope was a great way to give back to the San Antonio community.

“These are materials that really make learning fun and engaging, and will help these children overcome learning barriers,” she said. “If they don’t learn to read and they aren’t literate at a young age, they’re behind. These students already are in difficult situations.

The more information they can get, the more they can learn and the more they’ll be able to break out of the cycles they’re in. Hopefully, these will be our students in the long run. We hope they’ll be successful in school and they’ll be able to come to UTSA.”