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Books of Hope for Medford

Books of Hope for MedfordThe Class of 1954 raised $10,000 for new books in Medford Public Schools in an innovative project to commemorate its 50th reunion. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.07.04] When Tufts graduate Ben Sands realized his 50th reunion was coming up, he wanted to do something to commemorate it. So the 1954 graduate spearheaded "Books of Hope" - an innovative project to give back to the local community. After months of hard work, the class recently donated $10,000 to the Medford Public Schools to buy new books for its libraries.

"[I thought it] would be something nice for our reunion," Sands - who formulated the idea after a conversation with a friend who had done a reunion service project at another school - told the Medford Transcript. "It had never been done before. I hope that it will be a seed for other reunion classes to pick up on."

Expressing his gratitude for the gift, Superintendent of Schools Roy E. Belson said, "We are benefiting from your desire to become educated...This is just another success story of how Tufts University has graduated people who really care and want to give back to the community."

It was not difficult to rally the class behind the project.

"I made 55 calls and out of those, 51 people made contributions. That says something about the class and their support," Sands told the Transcript.

"Ben told me the goal was about $5000 and we would see how it went," Assistant Superintendent Arthur Swanson told the newspaper. "He kept me appraised and it seemed that every time we talked, he would tell me it was a little more. It went from $5,000 to $6,500 to $7,500 to $9,000 to slightly over $10,000."

Sands' original goal was $6,000 to $7,000, but when he told Swanson he could get more, Swanson encouraged him to go for it.

"I knew we could get the six," Sands told the Transcript. "But then we went by that and I said why stop there. Then I talked to [Swanson] and he said we could do a fourth school with what we had so I said let's get each of the four elementary schools about $2,500 each so we went for the $10,000"

This widespread support comes as no surprise to Class of 1954 President Glen Peterson.

"We felt so close to Medford," Peterson told the paper. "Some of our classmates stayed here and some even taught in the public schools. I thought it was a wonderful idea and I think that's why Ben drove it through so easily."

The Class of 1954's donation will help the libraries achieve the recommended number of books set by the library association.

"They recommend about 20 books per student or not less than 6,000 books total," Librarian Maria D'Orsi told the Transcript. "Right now, we have over 3,000."

McGlynn Elementary School Principal Joseph DiPersio hailed the gift as part of a larger connection between Tufts and the community.

"They share a lot of their time and often, their facilities as well," DiPersio told the Transcript. "We have developed a great partnership. For these people to give back to the little children, it's great. Our kids are going to benefit in the future."

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