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Celebrating Over 1,000 New Books for Nora Sterry Elementary

(Photo from left to right: KOREH L.A. Co-Chairs Allan Cutrow and Eve Kurtin, Philanthropy Manager of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Karen Polan, Nora Sterry Elementary School Principal Freida Smith, The Jewish Federation’s Director of Government Affairs and Community Engagement Programs Barri Worth, District Director for State Senator Holly Mitchell Sydney Kamlager, Nora Sterry Librarian Aide Giovanni Leon, KOREH L.A. Interim Program Coordinator Kelsey Larsen)


On February 26, KOREH L.A. hosted its 18th Library Restocking Ceremony in partnership with Toyota at Nora Sterry Elementary School in West Los Angeles. KOREH L.A. was joined by school staff members, community leaders, and representatives from Councilmember Mike Bonin and State Senator Holly Mitchell’s offices to celebrate the donation of 1,200 new books for Nora Sterry Elementary’s students to enjoy.

As our 18th library restocking in partnership with Toyota, this year is particularly special. In Jewish culture, 18 is a spiritual number due to its association with the Hebrew word חי or chai, meaning “life.”  Each Hebrew letter is assigned a numerical value and the total value for chai is 18. Any association with the number 18 is a celebration of life.

Since 2005, Toyota has partnered with KOREH L.A. to replenish the bookshelves and bring new life to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s most vulnerable school libraries. In total, KOREH L.A. and Toyota’s combined efforts have resulted in nearly 20,000 brand new books for LAUSD students.

KOREH L.A. was joined by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Philanthropy Manager Karen Polan, who shared Toyota’s commitment to education and her own personal love of reading. Ms. Polan was also kind enough to make her own personal contribution to Nora Sterry Elementary’s library in the form of Shine, Shine, Shine Bright: The Antonio Villaraigosa Story. The picture book tells the story of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa growing up in Los Angeles and the contributions of the Mexican American community to L.A.

The ceremony was a timely celebration, as the state of LAUSD’s libraries had just made the front page news. Principal Freda Smith spoke of the importance of keeping the library open and how lucky they were to have a part-time library aide available.

Nora Sterry Elementary’s students demonstrated their love of reading and appreciation for the new books through multiple student performances. Ms. Sikov’s 2nd grade class first distributed homemade cards and bookmarks featuring mini book reports to all the Library Restocking guests. One student wrote, “Thank you for donating books to our school. Books are important to me because reading helps me grow. Books have changed my life because I can imagine more and do more.”

Next, Ms. Tripp’s 3rd grade class performed a traditional Ghanaian dance, in honor of the book One Hen, a true story about a boy from Ghana transforming a small loan into a thriving farm.

Afterwards, the first student able to check-out a book from the newly refreshed library shared a few passages from Breaking Stalin’s Nose and expressed his enjoyment of the book’s ‘mystery aspect.’

Both KOREH L.A. and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. were honored by a certificate of appreciation by Councilmember Mike Bonin’s office, presented by Senior Field Deputy Len Nguyen.

Our 18th Library Restocking Ceremony concluded with a presentation by Ms. Kingston and her 3rd grade class, announcing that they would close by ‘showing’ us how they felt about all the brand new books. A few seconds later, the song ‘Happy’ by music artist Pharrell Williams filled the library, as the third-graders danced and clapped their hands.

Happiness can easily be found in a new book and we are thrilled to share the joy around.

Thank you to the school staff, faculty, and students at Nora Sterry Elementary for being such wonderful hosts, Karen Polan and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. for continuing to be such a strong partner, the offices of Councilmember Mike Bonin and State Senator Holly Mitchell for your support, our KOREH L.A. co-chairs Eve Kurtin and Allan Cutrow, and our volunteers for making KOREH L.A.’s 18th annual library restocking ceremony a success.

Check out the brief slideshow below to see highlights from our Library Restocking ceremony. You can use the arrows and pause button to look through the photos at your own pace. To see the photos more clearly and to view photo captions, make sure your mouse cursor is not hovering over the slideshow.

For more information on KOREH L.A.’s Book Initiative program, you can learn more here or by contacting us at literacy@jewishla.org.

If you have any questions about the slideshow, please contact Stephanie at sfabro@jewishla.org.

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