Local honor society promotes literacy for children

By Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer

As part of Phi Kappa Phi’s national campaign Stock the Shelf, Murray State’s chapter is hosting a book drive on campus throughout April. Gently used children’s books can be dropped off at: the Curris Center Bookstore, Waterfield Library, Room 121 in Wilson Hall and Room 6B-6 in Faculty Hall.

Phi Kappa Phi is a prestigious, interdisciplinary honor society. Membership invitations are only extended to the top 10 percent of seniors and graduate students and the top 7.5 percent of juniors.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded 100 years ago, in 1897, with the mission of guiding humanity through the passion of learning.

Since Phi Kappa Phi’s founding, more than 350 chapters across the nation and the Philippines have been established. Murray State is home to Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 302, which was founded in 2007.

Melony Shemberger, Chapter 302 faculty vice president, Phi Kappa Phi member of the National Board of Directors and assistant professor of journalism, said the national society of Phi Kappa Phi encourages chapters to host book drives.

“The reason why we focus on children is to promote the concept of literacy at an early age,” Shemberger said. “The book drives are core to our mission.”

William Mulligan, faculty chapter president and professor of history, said the goal is to help young children, from preschoolers to fifth-graders, develop a love for reading and learning.

“Education is so very important to success, and an early start is critical,” Mulligan said. “We hope the book drive will get students and faculty involved in helping the next generation.”

Currently, Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 302 has around 600 members.

Jaime Staengel, Phi Kappa Phi student vice president and senior from St. Louis, Missouri, credits Phi Kappa Phi for her success.

“Phi Kappa Phi has shaped me as a student because it has given me numerous opportunities to grow as a leader,” Staengel said. “I’ve grown as a professional by networking, and I have been motivated to pursue graduate studies.”

Staengel said she is excited about the book drive and hopes this year Phi Kappa Phi can collect more than 250 books. The recipients of the books have yet to be determined. Mulligan said a meeting will be held after Spring Break to decide which local schools will benefit from the drive.

The chapter that collects the most books or monetary donations will be awarded a “little free library,” along with $150 to cover decorating expenses. The small libraries will house free books, and people will be encouraged to bring in their used books and exchange them for new books to read.

Shemberger said she is absolutely thrilled by the thought of providing a free library to the Murray community. With the book drive, she hopes Phi Kappa Phi will be successful enough to win this prize.

To donate monetarily, checks must be made out to Phi Kappa Phi and delivered to Room 121-B in Wilson Hall.

“This book drive allows us to reach out and promote literacy for young children in the community surrounding Murray State and help contribute to expanding horizons of young minds,” Mulligan said. “We are honored to be involved with such a worldwide endeavor.”