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Lake Forest book bank hits million-book mark

Ariany Perez 7 Waukegan carries bag books from Bernie's Book Bank during an event Whittier School Waukegan. | Thomas Delany

Ariany Perez, 7, of Waukegan carries a bag of books from Bernie's Book Bank during an event at Whittier School in Waukegan. | Thomas Delany Jr~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:17AM

WAUKEGAN — Tuesday was a big day for Bernie’s Book Bank.

That was the day the Lake Forest-based nonprofit donated its one millionth book to a Whittier Elementary School student.

“One million is a big number. I think it’s encouraging what we’ve done. We plan to do another million next year alone,” Bernie’s Book Bank Executive Director Brian Floriani said.

Floriani said he was glad to make the millionth at Whittier, a school that has been part of Bernie’s Book Bank since its inception three years ago.

Every fall and spring for the past three years, each Whittier student has received six books for his or her own libraries.

Tuesday was no exception.

Chicago Bears player Blake Costanzo of Vernon Hills, reserve linebacker and special teams player, was on hand to distribute books and sign autographs for Whittier students.

“It’s for kids. It’s going to help them ... today’s kids need to learn good and to help each other. This program shows them that,” said Costanzo.

Bernie’s Book Bank’s book donations make a huge impact on Whittier’s students, according to Principal Jason Smith. The school’s first- through fifth-graders get excited to get their books from Bernies’s, Smith said.

“We’re lucky to be a collaborative partner with them for so many years,” he said. “One thing we struggle with as a school and district is getting book in their hands outside of school.”

The nonprofit tries to get books to children from birth through sixth grade, according to Bernie’s Book Bank spokeswoman Jill Rosenberg.

“The idea is because in making book owners, we make book lovers,” Rosenberg said.

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