Vidalia student on mission to keep kids reading

Book drop and exchange system launches Friday in Vidalia

Vidalia student on mission to keep kids reading
Godbee hopes to keep students reading despite schools and libraries being closed due to COVID-19. (Source: WTOC)

VIDALIA, Ga. (WTOC) - The son of a second grade teacher, Vidalia High School studentTom Godbee has learned the value of reading.

“Without reading, I’d be in a different place than I am now,”Godbee admits.

Now, Godbee is a state wrestling champion with aspirations to attend a service academy and become a military officer. He’s not the kind to let problems pass him by.

Godbee won a state wrestling title for the Vidalia Indians earlier this year.
Godbee won a state wrestling title for the Vidalia Indians earlier this year. (Source: Godbee family)

So with schools now closed for the rest of the academic year, the Vidalia High School junior is putting a spur of the moment idea into action.

“I thought it would be a good idea to get some bins, so we could put books in the bins and let kids pick them up and take them after we clean them,” Godbee says.

Now it’s a reality.

He’s calling it Operation Keep Reading. Think of it like a free library, sanitized down of course. Folks donate old books for kids and young adults at the drop off locations, then Godbee will pick them up and sanitize them. After that, students can pick out whatever book they’d like.

Tom and his mother put the thought into action today, setting up the drop off and exchange bins at Vidalia High School and Sally D. Meadows Elementary School.

Drop-off and exchange bins for used books are located at Vidalia High School and Sally D. Meadows Elementary School.
Drop-off and exchange bins for used books are located at Vidalia High School and Sally D. Meadows Elementary School. (Source: WTOC)

Vidalia High School Principal John Sharpe says he’s glad to see his own students stepping up when needed, especially with an issue like this. Sharpe notes students will miss about 25% of in-class time due to COVID-19 closures, and knows not all students have access to reading materials at home.

That’s why he’s so proud of Godbee for putting his plan into motion.

“It’s so good to see students able to solve problems and finding other ways to reach kids and connect with families because this is a critical time,” Sharpe says.

Tom says it’s a simple plan, but one he hopes will galvanize this city to keep reading.

“If kids need more books, we’ll go get more books and we can keep asking for more books," Godbee says. "We’re hoping a lot of people are going to show up and participate.”

Vidalia high school junior Tom Godbee is putting into action a spur of the moment idea to help students keep reading with schools closed.
Vidalia high school junior Tom Godbee is putting into action a spur of the moment idea to help students keep reading with schools closed. (Source: WTOC)

While there are only the two exchange locations currently, Godbee hopes to add more drop off spots around the community in the next few days.

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