Students at Christ the King High School are making a difference in the lives of students and residents of New Orleans by donating 6,000 books to the city’s public schools and libraries as they struggle to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

            The high school’s community based volunteer organization, the Key Club, was responsible for collecting thousands of books, sorting them and packing them into boxes. 

Lisa Longobardi, an art teacher who has been moderating the club for two-and-a-half years, supervised the collection. 

            Longobardi decided to arrange the book collection after she heard from a distressed colleague in New Orleans who was struggling to attain textbooks. Longobardi said the club organizes and participates in several volunteer programs every year including canned food drives and gift-wrapping during the holidays.

            “That’s our niche,” Longobardi said, “We like to help people in need.”

            Organizers hope that this contribution may help lower the city’s illiteracy rate, which is more than 40 percent based on statistics provided by the Literacy Alliance of Greater New Orleans. Illiteracy in New Orleans gained national media attention in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina had passed. Reports began to surface that said some hurricane victims had trouble seeking government aid because they could not comprehend the government forms.

             “Knowing what happened in New Orleans a few years ago, I wanted to help them in anyway I could,” said Christ the King student Damion Depass, about the motivation behind getting involved in the project.

            The students enjoyed working with the foundation to help the less fortunate.  Volunteering seems to serve not only as an opportunity to help others, but to socialize as well.

            “We do a lot of service projects each year and we always have fun when we do it,” said Jessica Mann, a senior at Christ the King.  Mann joined the Key Club, in part, because her friends were members. 

            Mann and other students helped collect and organize books to send to schools and libraries in New Orleans. 

            Christ the King High School made the donation though the Josephine Foundation.  The foundation was established in 2002 in honor of Josephine Koslowsky to promote education, music and art for underprivileged young adults and children. She was a former student of the high school, and the foundation provided the buses and drivers to deliver the books.