What did you do during summer vacation? Such is often the first theme on which students are asked to write when returning to school.
If Rhema Pitts was asked that question, she could tell you about her personal project of collecting books for inmates.
Pitts, a senior student at Troup High School, is the daughter of Edward Pitts, retired from the US Navy, and Christine Williams, an English teacher.
The youngest of three siblings, Pitts was born in Florida, raised in Washington and moved to Texas when she was 14 years old.
Pitts, an avid reader whose favorite author is James Patterson, said she and her mother have a reading club between the two of them every summer.
“We went to the library when we were going to get some books we were going to read together and we saw a whole bunch of books being filtered through and they are being put in a pile,” Pitts said.
She then wondered where the books go when the library is no longer in need of them.
The library was going to recycle the unwanted books, according to Pitts.
“Someone could use those books,” Pitts thought. “There were 60 or 70 books and someone could use those books. If there are 60-70 books being donated at the end of every school year, that’s a lot of books if you round up from all the libraries in the area.”
Due to the fact that hewr mother had worked at a correctional facility,Pitts thought the books could be donated to prisons.
Collecting books from the libraries at University of Texas-Tyler, Tyler Junior College, Troup High School, Troup Middle School, Troup Elementary School, Longview High School as well as the Troup Library and Longview Community Library allowed Pitts to donate about 2,800 books to two correctional facilities in East Texas.
The books donated were “mainly non-fiction,” according to Pitts.
“There were a lot of books about political leaders, about how life was in the 1900s and how it’s different from now; there were even cooking books, books on mechanics, a wide range of them,” Pitts stated.
While Pitts states her mother was instrumental in assisting her with the project she began over the summer, she intends to continue collecting books as a National Honor Society project.
“I really believe that you can rehabilitate through education,” Pitts asserted. “What if you look at their past? Maybe they weren’t educated like they should have been when they were a kid and you have the chance to impact them in a powerful way. Why don’t we try to bring that education towards the front so they can make more thought out, educated moves; to better weigh the consequences of what they are doing?”
After graduation, Pitts plans to attend college to study invasive cardiology.