Mother-daughter duo donates 16,000 books to kids

Sara Weaver and her mother JoAnn Hooker have been helping kids learn how to read for years. (Image: WTVC)

For many students, summer break has finally arrived!

But before they waved good bye to their teachers and friends, a mother-daughter duo made sure every student had ten books to read at home.

In this week's Pay It Forward, Jessica Harthorn surprises them at their annual book giveaway at South Polk Elementary School.

For more than 20 years, JoAnn Hooker has helped hundreds of kids learn how to read in Polk County.

She's a special education teacher at South Polk Elementary school, where her daughter Sara also teaches first grade.

Their love of literacy knows no limits.

Plastic bags were rattling and the kids were glowing with excitement, hundreds of books lay before them, free for the taking!

"It's like Christmas morning!" said School Supervisor Joel Cox.

For the past four years, School Supervisor Joel Cox has witnessed the book giveway at South Polk Elementary, seeing first hand how it battles the summer slide where kids can regress in reading skills.

"Some students have no books at home, so this is big to inspire them to pick up a book during the summer," said Joel.

Since 2014, JoAnn Hooker and her daughter Sara Weaver have purchased more than 16,000 books and giveaway day is a big deal!

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They were so wrapped up in handing them out, they didn't even notice our camera crew had entered the room.

"Sara and JoAnn? On Behalf of the McMahan Law Firm and Newschannel 9, I want to Pay It Forward from your community of South Polk $500. We appreciate everything you do. Hold your hands out! 1, 2, 3, 4, $500," surprised Joel.

"Thank you!" said JoAnn and Sara.

JoAnn tells us seeing the kids' eyes light up as they turn the pages is worth every dollar spent.

"I just hope they grow up to love reading and explore a big wide world through books," said JoAnn.

Joel says opening a book is like opening a door, everything is reading based, even math.

"Six, seven, we need how many more? Ten! We need three more to make ten don't we?" asked JoAnn to the student.

As the kids walked out the door, book bags in hand, JoAnn and Sara knew it wasn't the end of the story -there's always next year.

Do you know someone who deserves $500 cash for helping others? Nominate them here.

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