‘Books and Bears’ crusaders from Humble ISD return to HPOU, Have enlightening experience taking walking tour of Memorial

Tom Kennedy

Seldom has there been a more supportive group of students than the 12 members of the National Technical Honor Society in the Humble Independent School District.

For going on two years now the group has actively sponsored its “Books and Bears” program, a positive community service project involving law enforcement.

Members of the group and one of its sponsors made their second appearance at an HPOU general membership meeting last month to follow up on their introductory appearance almost one year ago.

The program is the product of student brainstorming about ways to get their organization’s name and purpose out in their community. Basically, the group provides books and teddy bears to HPD officers who frequently encounter youngsters while patrolling communities throughout a diverse city. To provide these special folks with non-threatening and, indeed, positive interaction tools would help to make the often difficult tasks much easier.

Risa McCann, one of the group’s sponsors, said the students’ appearance had a dual purpose – the resupply HPOU members with books and bears under the distribution management of HPOU President Joe Gamaldi and, also, to take in yet another learning experience about Houston police and the job they perform.

“We were there to make a donation of books and bears that we had collected at five different high schools in Humble ISD,” McCann explained, referring to the three large boxes that were part of the delivery.

Collection of the books and bears involved pickups from student donors at five high schools in Humble ISD – Atascocita, Humble, Kingwood, Kingwood Park and Summer Creek. “Joe will be distributing them as needed,” she explained.

McCann was eager to point out the other purpose of the group’s trip to Houston and the positive results.

“We loved going to the meeting,” McCann explained. “It served as a spring board for all kinds of conversation. We toured the Police Memorial. We walked over there and read the names and walked back on the bayou to our bus.

“It brought things back after watching the presentation at the meeting and hearing the tribute to Officer Jim Kilty. We found his name on the memorial.”

McCann said the travel time back to Humble entailed animated conversations about policing Houston, the police union and the names on the Houston Police Memorial.

She described the members of the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) as “a small but mighty group” dedicated to positive community service, especially when it relates to helping law enforcement groups.

Fired up by the response to “Books and Bears,” group members undertook a second project this year – the creation and establishment of a Little Free Library at Oak Forest Elementary School in Humble ISD. Open the front door of the small “library” on the campus and a student may pick up or borrow one of the books inside. Most are donated by Humble ISD high school students and read at the elementary level.

McCann said all her students “signed their name” inside the library; many of them are alumni of the school. They remain dedicated to providing free books to students who might not be able to have access to a school library.

“The kids love this idea,” she explained. “We buy them from book stores and libraries or go through our closets at home. Books and students become the theme.”

McCann, co-sponsor of the group along with fellow teacher David Srubar, said she looks forward to yet another trip to HPOU to replenish the Union’s books and bears supply.