MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Loma Blake dedicated to students of Woodland Heights

Kevin Holamon

In March, Woodland Heights Elementary first-grade teacher Loma Blake conceived a plan to raise money for the school’s library.

Having taught at the school for 16 years, Blake is dedicated to the students and recognized the need for books in the library.

“It takes a lot of money to keep the books current,” she said at the time, “and to replace worn books.”

She noted the average cost of a library book, across all grade levels, is about $19.

Blake issued a challenge to the students, teachers, and parents to raise $5,000 by the end of the school year.

Blake said Dr. Jeff Windham, owner of Cornerstone Pet Hospital, was among the first to meet the challenge, by contributing $500.

“Mostly, we just got a little bit, here and there,” Blake said. “It just all adds up and pays off.”

During the year, Blake had help from many others. She mentioned Coach Karey Morelock’s efforts in setting up activity stations and concessions for the field day and Aaron Terry for volunteering to enter the dunking booth.

“The water was very cold and every time he got back up, the wind made it colder,” Blake said, “We kept bringing him hot chocolate to help.”

The teachers placed collection containers in the classrooms, the school held a rummage sale, a website was set up to accept PayPal donations, and Chili’s restaurant helped with its donation program.

Blake recalled one parent telling about her daughter’s commitment.

“She said her daughter would come home every day and beg her to donate $5,000,” Blake said.

For the last week of school, to encourage a final push to the goal, Blake even dyed her hair purple.

On May 30, the day of reckoning arrived. The money was counted and the stage was decorated. $5,285.95 was the tally that morning.

As Blake took her seat in the middle of the stage and hairdresser Nikki Green of Wild Roots Salon joined her, the students began chanting, “Shave that head! Shave that head!”

Although monies are still coming in, Blake said the last tally for the Bald for Books challenge was $5,888.

“It was really a fun challenge,” she said, “and it got the kids excited.”

Blake said the final push helped the kids stay focused at the end of the year, but it was hectic on the teachers. She said if she attempts something similar in the future, it will be earlier in the school year and will most likely not involve shaving her head.

I appreciate the teachers supporting the challenge, Blake said, “and it wouldn’t have happened without the kids.”

“The whole school came together and will benefit,” she added.

While many were involved in achieving the goal, Loma Blake was certainly the driving force behind Bald for Books and she continues to work toward completing the project. She has already spoken to the BISD librarian about account access to book dealers and plans to work over the summer to select and order books, hoping to have the shelves stocked before the new school year begins.