Educators from as far away as Kissimmee and Daytona Beach and local families made a mad dash for stacks of 20,000 new, free PK-12th grade books donated by First Book during a book drive organized by the UCF College of Education & Human Performance, Central Florida Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Delta Teacher Efficacy Campaign on Saturday morning.

Disney-character and “Star Wars” books were popular selections during the inaugural book bonanza in University of Central Florida parking Garage A. The books by Hyperion Books and Disney Publishing Worldwide were given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

More than 40 volunteers from the college faculty and staff, Central Florida Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Orange County Public Schools’ administrators provided manpower and worked tirelessly to make the book drive a reality.

For the past two years, elementary education major and book-drive volunteer Sarah Cho has been collecting and mailing new and used books for the Happy Land International School in Mindanao, Philippines. She knew firsthand how much teachers and students appreciate donated books and felt the college book drive was a wonderful way to give back to area students.

“The teachers and parents were delighted when they picked up books for their students and children during the book drive,” she said. “When students see a classroom filled with new books, then it can increase the desire for reading.”

Volunteer Katelynn Arroyo is enrolled in the Master of Arts in elementary education degree program. She was touched by the eye-opening experience.

“The book drive was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life because I could see the overwhelming appreciation on several teachers’ faces when they were given brand new books for their classrooms’ libraries and students. These books will help children achieve higher reading levels.”

First Book requires book drives to follow its mission by serving lower-income students in Title 1 schools and community, and faith-based organizations. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority started planning the book drive four months ago, and was granted 20,000 books after they received 1,000 book-drive registrants who teach or work with at-risk children.

Martha Lue Stewart, an exceptional-education professor and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority member, said the books will benefit children in need.

“The book drive provides families with an opportunity to read a book while spending quality time together. What you can do as a family can really make a positive difference, and a book that’s properly taken care of can be a child’s friend for life.”