NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- It was a book lovers' dream come true.
Stacks of novels, picture books and more rising from tables and the gymnasium floor, all for free.
That was the scene in the Trinity Elementary School last Saturday when members of the New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees (FUSE) handed out 13,000 books. Students from throughout the City School District of New Rochelle were welcome to take as many volumes as they wanted.
"This is amazing!" said Jefferson Elementary School parent Elsie Sanchez. "It encourages them to read more because they're able to pick out their favorite books."
She came with her sons, fourth-grader Justin and fifth-grader Christian.
"It's pretty awesome," said Christian. "I was hoping to find some Star Wars books - and I found them."
Families walked off with bags filled with books, with armloads of books, with stacks that took two hands to carry.
Tenesha Bradshaw came with her children, Alyssa, a second-grader at Daniel Webster Magnet School, and Ethan, a sixth-grader at Albert Leonard Middle School. Ethan reads about a book per week; Alyssa enjoys bedtime stories.
"We spend time together that way," their mom said.
The books came compliments of a partnership of the non-profit First Book organization and the American Federation of Teachers. Also offered were water bottles, bookmarks and other items.
"Everything in this gym is for free," New Rochelle FUSE Executive Director Billy Coleman told one parent. Jokingly, he added, "Just leave us the tables."
By 2 p.m., four hours after the giveaway began, the books were gone - except about 200 that the union put aside to give to the schools.
"With the help that members gave in pitching in, and the gratitude that people showed us for making the books available, it was really overwhelming what we accomplished," Coleman said.