Two local nonprofits have executed projects to provide thousands of books to local Title I schools and recognize local fallen veterans during the holiday season in Round Rock.

Honoring Veterans

The Round Rock Veterans Coalition installed several Christmas trees at Memorial Plaza near Yonders Point in Old Settlers Park in early December. Summer Pavliska, a representative of the coalition, said the display includes many of the names of service members who have been lost since Sept. 11, 2001 on over 600 3D printed gold stars supplied by Pflugerville-based office of EOS North America. Pavliska said the company has committed to providing the remaining stars in the future, to commemorate each of the 780 fallen.

"We told the story to the to the guy who is making these and they are now going to continue to donate so that we can finish," Pavliska said. "So we have roughly 622 stars out of what's now 780 fallen soldiers. Where before we had to raise the money to get them done, well now this company is going to donate them to us."

The trees have since been moved to the Clay Madsen Recreation Center, where they will remain throughout the end of the year. For visitors who are unable to locate their loved one's name on the tree, Pavliska said permanent markers and additional stars will be available. Next year, the coalition plans to add first responders, law enforcement and canine units to their Freedom Trees.

Early literacy

The Young Mens' Service League partnered with the Round Rock ISD Partners in Education Foundation mid-December to deliver over 3,500 books to Title I schools. A mix of new and used books were wrapped, labeled with the title and author, then sorted by grade level, so teachers could select books to be given to their classes.

The Young Men's Service League is a non-profit organization providing service and leadership opportunities for mothers and their sons through community projects. Each year, the Round Rock chapter selects its ultimate gift to the community, Kasey Baize said. Baize is the YMSL's Ultimate Gift Chair, and helped direct the community project to gather and provide books to eight RRISD campuses for students to take home, as well as create Little Free Libraries on these campuses.

"When you look at a book and what it does for a person's life, it helps you grow your vocabulary," Baize said. "Vocabulary has a large impact on education. It can take you places you may not be able to go in person. People read to learn new information, they learn to have an escape from reality. There are so many different things that a book can do for a person."

Baize said the idea from the project came from a book read during a lesson, as she is a teacher, that included a story about a child creating a little free library for their peers.