RICHMOND, Va. -- One Virginia non-profit is determined to keep books in the hands of students throughout the year.
"Literacy is my passion. So this has fed my soul," Judy Deichman said.
Deichman, also known as the Limo Queen, sits behind the wheels of the Lit Limo, a library on wheels.
"Oh my gosh, this is what's gotten me through the pandemic, being able to be out five days a week, seeing students handing out books. I mean, it's my passion," Deichman said.
Deichman is the instructional specialist for library media for Richmond Public Schools.
"So we started this program two years ago and initially started as a summer program to get books in the hands of our students," Deichman said.
The free program is now year-round.
"A lot of times, they're told what to read and when to read. So the Lit Limo is about student choice," Deichman said. "So it gives me goosebumps just talking about it. Because when a child is making a book request, that means that they are really starting to get that love of reading."
With the support from the Hope for Learning Foundation, it's working.
"Our mission is working with underprivileged kids in Title 1 schools. We mostly focus on literacy growth," Chuck Caple, the CEO of the foundation, said.
Caple spent over 30 years as an educator in the beauty and hair industry. His passion has now turned to supporting children.
"And again, we wanted to work with the small kids, the ones who suffered the most at these low-income populations," Caple said. "We initially started K through 12. But we decided after a long assessment that we would rather work K through 5 because we would rather get them while they're very impressionable."
The non-profit works in conjunction with Communities in Schools.
"And we assist them with things such as volunteering for mentoring sessions, group readings. We provide books of all genres," Caple said. "We just recently started working with a lot of food insecurity. It's kind of off track, but a lot of our Title 1 schools have asked us for food."
The need for basics like snacks and other nutritious foods is great. Hope for Learning Foundation's second annual charity 5k walk will support the mission.
"We have about six or seven schools we work with on a consistent basis but because we're getting the books to Lit Limo and Judy, for the book vending machines, we can reach so many more elementary schools," Caple said.
Richmond isn't the only school district benefiting from the book donations. Henrico and Chesterfield are also benefiting from the program.
The books come in English and Spanish.
"And that's been a great outreach, especially for our parents whose primary language is Spanish so we have books that are bilingual. So both the parent and the student can read the book together."
Saturday's charity 5k walk starts at 9 a.m. at Midlothian Mines Park.