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UNF Graduate Wins Award for Book Drive

Courtesy of the University of North Florida

Teri DeLucca wins scholarship for work with Books for the Heart

When University of North Florida (UNF) Student Teri DeLucca won the 2003 Bill and Angie Halamandaris Scholarship last year, little did she know how much that award would affect her.

The scholarship gave her the opportunity to stay in Washington, D.C. for several weeks to work with the Books from the Heart Project. The project gives donated age-appropriate books to children in under-resourced schools in Washington.

DeLucca fell in love with the program.

After returning to Jacksonville, she recruited about 30 volunteers who have helped her fill a warehouse with hundreds of books. They plan to have a local book distribution in the spring.

"I felt like there was a need that wasn't being met," DeLucca said of her efforts to bring books to school area children.

Her project with the area book drive is one reason why the UNF Alumni Association presented her with the Senior Service Award for the fall semester. The award recognizes graduating seniors for outstanding service to the university and the community through volunteerism.

DeLucca, who received a degree in psychology, plans to use the $500 she received from the Senior Award to buy books for the local effort.

"We're very excited about this," she said, adding that the money will allow for the purchase of 250 books at the discounted rate from a publisher.

DeLucca, who was reared in Orange Park and lives in Jacksonville Beach with her husband, started classes at UNF in 1997.

She worked on campus and in the community as a volunteer while maintaining a high grade point average and participating in UNF clubs and programs, such as Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology, Golden Key National Honor Society and the Honors Program.

She also has served as a counselor for Camp Healing Power, which helps children cope with the loss of a family member, and as a Sunday School teacher at Orange Park First Baptist Church.

DeLucca plans to apply to graduate school to study developmental psychology. She said that even if she leaves the Jacksonville area for graduate school, she hopes the book drive will continue through some of the volunteers now working with the project.