Clovis Unified School District concluded the Eleventh Annual Elizabeth O’Neill Drive, collecting a record-topping 1,133 books to benefit libraries at Title I elementary schools in the district.
The 1,133 books, divided between Reagan and Miramonte Elementary schools, were dropped off on Wednesday, March 20 at Reagan Elementary School.
Librarians Kyla Rose and Sue Hamilton joined staff from the San Joaquin College of Law School and members of the SJCL Student Bar Association to help complete the book drop-off.
The book drive commemorates a woman who built a legacy with her concern for children in the Valley.
“Elizabeth O’Neill was an amazing woman,” Missy Mckai Cartier, Public Information Officer San Joaquin College of Law, said. “She became a major advocate for children, not only locally, but statewide and nationally.”
O’Neill raised five children, completed her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 1969 and became a nationally recognized expert in family law including child custody, visitation and child abuse.
O’Neill was also one of the founders of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Fresno County and the Fresno Council on Child Abuse Prevention.
“This is a way of memorializing her and what her life was about, which was kids,” Cartier said.
Over the past 11 years, the O’Neill Drive has delivered 5,056 books to Title I elementary schools in Clovis Unified.
“The books were donated by San Joaquin faculty, staff, alumni, friends of alumni, students, friends of students,” Cartier said. “We have three representatives of the Student Bar Association today. They really spearheaded the movement this year.”
Cartier also thanked Friends of the Fresno County Public Library for donating books.
Cartier said the donations make it possible for kids to have access to books at school because they don’t always have a way to get to the nearest public library.
“I don’t know how far the next public library is, but is a 6-year-old going to go there on their own?” Cartier said. “The Law School makes sure that at the very least kids can get their hands on books at their elementary school.”