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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Aviation Maintenance Students work to promote child literacy

May 29, 2014
Student taking online courses
The students of the SJVC Aviation Campus contributed 189 books to the cause of ending childhood illiteracy. These books will join the thousands of others collected by United Way of Fresno County.

When the United Way of Fresno County needed to raise donations of children’s books for charity, Board of Directors Chair and SJVC employee Susan Smilie-Janecek knew to look no further than the Fresno Aviation campus of San Joaquin Valley College. Surely enough, the students there were more than willing to help.

“I donated because I felt it was my duty to help ensure that the kids nowadays have the material necessary to succeed in school and move on to bigger and better things,” says AMT student Justin Porter.

Justin and many of his fellow Aviation Maintenance students contributed to the respectable array of books provided.

Caring for the well-being of their community and the success of its youth, the Aviation Maintenance school students managed to donate 189 books to the United Way in only a month’s time, which is respectable considering the Aviation Campus being one of the smaller SJVC sites.

Susan’s idea was to create a lighthearted competition between the three different modules. General maintenance, power plant, and airframe students, all of them at different stages of the program, would compete to see who could donate the most books.

Ultimately, the General class won, despite having fewer students than the others. A mere fifteen students donated seventy-five books. No doubt, the promise of a gourmet pizza party for the winning module motivated the students in part.

These 189 books will accompany many others at the Central Valley Book Bank, the site where thousands of children’s books are collected by United Way of Fresno County. The organization hopes to collect in total ten thousand books.

“It’s a lofty goal,” says Susan. “But it’s one that’s attainable.”

These books will then be donated to needy children across the county, in hopes to foster child literacy.

“When kids fall behind early in school, they have a tendency to drop out by high school,” warns Sue.

Targeting students pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade, the program aims to keep kids at their grade’s reading level, which is an important factor in preventing them from falling behind and potentially dropping out of school in their teenage years.

June 21st will be the United Way of Fresno County’s Day of Action. Among a variety of other charitable projects, that day the books collected and donated across the county will be distributed, including those raised by SJVC’s very own Aviation campus.

That day, the thousands of books collected so far will be given to various charitable organizations, schools, youth services program and the like. United Way estimates that a considerable fifty-nine percent of Fresno county children have limited access to books, and sixty-one percent of those families do not have even one book at children’s level. No doubt, the Book Bank will make a dent in that this year. Lots of these kids can finally have a book of their own.

The United Way Book Bank is a way for anyone to get involved in their community, since all it takes is the donation of a children’s book or two, new or slightly used.

San Joaquin Valley College prides itself on the charitable efforts of its students, who consistently prove themselves to be generous and sympathetic to the needs of their community. No matter how big or small a campus, the students of SJVC are there to donate time and more to noble causes.

To learn more about how you can help, whether by donating books or volunteering, visit the United Way of Fresno County’s website at


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