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July 1, 2013 - St. Paul's Student Donates Books to USA Children’s Medical Center
From left to right: Shakina Jones, pediatric clinical care assistant; Leah Brown, student; USA Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Sheets; and Leah's mom, Dr.Yaffa Weaver-Brown.

The University of South Alabama Children’s Medical Center recently received more than 500 new and gently used children’s books collected by a rising eighth-grader at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile.

The student, Leah Brown, 12, planned the service project as part of her preparation to become a Bat Mitzvah.

“I love reading, and I can remember my parents reading to me when I was little,” Leah said. “It made me feel good to listen to a story every night, and I wanted to make sure other kids could have the same good experience with books.”

USA Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Sheets said the USA Children's Medical Center gives books away as part of the Reach Out and Read program, a nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud.

The 500 donated books Leah donated will be given to children of all ages at sick visits and well check-ups from 5 years of age through the teenage years as part of the Reach Out and Read program.

“Summer is a great time for children to read when they are out of school,” Dr. Sheets said. “Leah’s book drive provided many school age favorites, such as The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter books.”

According to Dr. Sheets, Leah also collected $225 that has been deposited into the center’s Scholastic account to buy board books to give to infants and toddlers at their check-ups. “Leah’s donation will provide approximately 100 board books,” she said. “We are very grateful for her generosity.”

Leah’s mom, Dr. Yaffa Weaver-Brown, said Leah collected the books from her classmates and teachers at St. Paul’s. Donation sites were also located at the Springhill Avenue Temple and Ahavas Chesed Synogogue.

“My husband, Mark, and I are very proud of Leah’s efforts with this project,” said Yaffa. “She has always loved reading, so it seemed to be a great fit for her to pursue this project.”

Leah said she chose to give her collected donations to USA Children’s Medical Center in part because of an experience she had when she had surgery.

“I remember that when I had surgery, I had nothing to do in the waiting room. With the donated books, children won’t be bored. They can read,” Leah said. “I hope that with my donations, kids will be given the chance to love reading just like I do.”

The Children's Medical Center, which is the pediatric teaching clinic for the University, became a member of the Reach Out and Read initiative eight years ago.

For more information on making a donation to the Reach Out and Read program at USA Children's Medical Center, contact Dr. Sheets at or call (251) 434-3869.

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