The initiative is a collaborative effort between Delton Kellogg, Hastings, Maple Valley and Thornapple Kellogg schools, the Barry County YMCA, Thornapple Credit Union and First Presbyterian Church.
Allison Hinton, community outreach director of the YMCA, coordinated the efforts of many volunteers and donors to make the dream that started almost three years ago a reality.
“A lot of generous donors made this possible,” Barry County YMCA director Jon Sporer said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.
Hinton said the First Presbyterian Church of Hastings provided seed money to purchase the bus and really get the project rolling. From there, she said, schools and organizations eagerly jumped on board to make the B. Bus happen.
She thanked students at Hastings High School and Thornapple Kellogg High School for hosting a penny war. Funds raised from their combined efforts were matched by Thornapple Credit Union for a total of more than $5,000. TK students also assisted in sorting the numerous book donations during a service day project this spring. All four school districts are providing funds for operational costs of the B. Bus.
Hinton also thanked the many people who donated books for the mobile library. There are books for all ages – from preschool to adult. A grant from the Lois Lenski Covey Foundation also made it possible to purchase books written or translated into Spanish to match with an English-language book, as well as bilingual books for infant through adults.
Anyone may visit the bus during any of its stops. No card is needed, but people will have to register. They’ll be given a number and then each time they visit throughout the summer, they’ll just provide their name or number.
Barry County students who have KickStart to Career accounts established will get an extra $5 added to their accounts after they visit the B. Bus five times throughout the summer.
“They’re getting paid to read,” said Thornapple Kellogg curriculum director Kim Chausow.
She said she’s very excited about having another resource for all students to continue reading in the summer months and help stop the “summer slide,” or loss of progress made during the school year.
“We can’t thank everyone enough for all the support,” Chausow said. “It’s been incredible, and the bus looks amazing.”
The interior of the bus was gutted, and seats were replaced with shelves for books. There are some comfortable pillows and bean bags and a station at the front of the bus for check-in and check-out.
Celeste Wolverton, from the First Presbyterian Church, said she’s pleased with how the B. Bus project has turned out and can’t wait to see kids coming and enjoying reading.
“We’re a very rural county, and not everyone can get to the public libraries in the summer. This just helps bring books out to them,” said Wolverton, a retired teacher. “This is first-class.”
Hinton said the B. Bus has a library software system to keep track of books. She said there is an ample supply of books to stock the bus all summer.
Barry County Chamber of Commerce Director Travis Alden congratulated the B. Bus committee on its outstanding work on the initiative. He said the goal of the chamber is to help maintain a strong, vibrant and healthy community.
“Youth literacy is a big part of our goal,” he said.
Hinton said many people and organizations helped make the B Bus possible, including Darrell Barnum of D.B. Design, who did the exterior design on the bus, Cabinets Plus of Hastings for the interior cabinets, and financial support especially from Great Lakes Energy, First Presbyterian Church of Hastings, and the four schools partnering with the Barry County YMCA.
“It just all started to come together, and now we can’t wait to get out there and have the kids come to the bus,” said Hinton.
The bus will start visiting local communities June 18 and will be out five days each week.
The tentative times and locations are as follows (they are subject to change)
Mondays – Thornapple Kellogg schools, 9 to 10 a.m. Thorn-Barry Apartments; 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Cider Mill Mobile Home Park; 12:30 to 1:30, Town Center Apartments; and 2 to 3 p.m. Misty Ridge subdivision.
Tuesdays – Hastings schools, 9 to 10 a.m. TangleTown/Bob King Park; 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Hastings Middle School; 12:30 to 1:30, Southeastern Elementary playground; 2 to 3 p.m., Baltimore Terrace Estates.
Wednesdays – Delton Kellogg schools, 9 to 10 a.m. Fine Lake Public Access site; 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Cadwaller Park, Hickory Corners; 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Prairieville Township Park.
Thursdays – Maple Valley Schools, 9 to 10 a.m. Thornapple Lake Estates Mobile Home Park; 11 to noon Vermontville Pavilion; 1 to 2 p.m. 2 or 3 Together in Nashville; 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Meadow Stone Area off Banfield.
Fridays – 9 to 10 a.m. Yankee Springs Meadows Mobile Home Park; 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., The Landing on Gun Lake.
An up-to-date listing of the B. Bus schedule can be found on the Facebook page at B.Bus Library.
The B. Bus will not operate during holidays or inclement weather. Locations and times are subject to change throughout the summer.