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Pollard honored as Bookfest Literacy Hero
Jeanne Pollard

Jeanne Pollard of Manteca was honored by the leaders of the Great Valley Bookfest as their Literacy Hero Award. 

Pollard is a retired teacher who has spent her life promoting literacy in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

During her years as a teacher, she was recognized as a knowledgeable and well-respected professional. She was always willing to help her colleagues, and she always seemed to know just the right book to enrich a lesson or inspire a reluctant reader. 

Since her retirement, Pollard has become very active in the Friends of the Library, working to increase public awareness of library needs and to build community support. Her efforts have helped bring many cultural and educational programs to the Manteca Library.

In addition to her support of the public library, Pollard was the first person in Manteca to set up a “Little Free Library” – a nationwide movement where book lovers build a weathertight bookshelf facing the sidewalk and fill it with books to entice neighborhood children to read. Pollard has helped many others set up their own Little Free Library stands, and she can attest to the fact that local children love to visit these stands to borrow books.

Pollard recognizes the critical importance of reading not only for the young, but also for the elderly and housebound. She recently helped sort through the library at Prestige Senior Living to make the books more organized and accessible.

She has been a key member of the Great Valley Bookfest committee since 2012, when she volunteered to organize and manage a used book sale at the very first Bookfest. Thanks to her colossal efforts, the used book sale has become a wildly popular venue at this annual event.

The used book sale places easily affordable books in the hands of avid readers – and also into the hands of teachers, who are encouraged to buy deeply discounted bags of books for their classrooms. Pollard makes a special effort to share books with new teachers who are just starting their careers, helping them build classroom libraries to help their students to get hooked on reading.

She works tirelessly preparing for the annual book sale, collecting and organizing books year-round – and the sale gets bigger every year. 

This year, Pollard and her team collected and categorized over 18,000 books and raised more than $3,000. Pollard was on duty for the entire event.

 “My watch said I had over 22,000 steps,” Pollard said. “I was tired at the end of the day – happy tired!”

Pollard is quick to remind people that that she does not do this alone. She has recruited a large team of volunteers to help with the sorting. The 2018 team started sorting books in May. Volunteers included Anne Talcott, Liz Sucht, Carol and  Dave Strait, Kay Harris, Evelyn Moore, Lynda Seelye, Ruthann Bassett, Jeanette Farley, Sandy Woodsode, Becky Hoogendoorn, Dorene Arucan, Lora Parsons, Marlene Colby, Steve and Laurieann Stroud, Darryl and Margie Shaw, and Cynthia Faure with her sister Pam and her husband Bob. 

“We started sorting books in May after Charlie Halford brought the tables from the Boys Girls Club.” said Jeanne. “We had a rule: we would sort the books, which mostly came from donations to the library, and then go to lunch together. We probably met for 12-15 sorting sessions.”

“So many other people donate time and materials to make this happen.” said Pollard. “Travis is in charge of Security at Orchard Valley Promenade. He is terrific, with an easy smile, opening and locking up our sorting room, helping carry heavy boxes of books and taking care of the recycling.” 

“On the day of the Bookfest, Charlie Halford, Toni Raymus, Andrew Sephos, and their team helped move the boxes of books to pallets and wrap them for easy moving. The cash boxes were set up by my husband, Jay Holmes. Scott and Kara Blevins from Mountain Valley Express brought equipment to move the pallets at 7 a.m. on Saturday. A service team from Crossroads Community Church came to transfer the books from pallets to tables. Wendy Benavides and Shaleen Samalino from the Friends of the Library helped with setup and sales. A team from a charter military school moved tables Friday and helped clean up after the event. As you can see, it truly is a team effort.” 

Proceeds from the sale benefit the Friends of the Library. Since 2012, the book sale has generated over $20,000, which has helped pay for many special programs and library materials. When you consider that those funds have been collected in nickels, dimes, and quarters, it’s an impressive accomplishment.

“During her career and throughout her retirement, Jeanne Pollard has diligently worked to promote literacy for all ages,” commented Melissa King, who chairs the award committee. “Her enthusiasm for books and her willingness to help others is truly inspiring. It is our great pleasure to recognize her among our region’s Literacy Heroes.”