The bus stopped here, Bess the Book Bus visits area schools

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

Pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade students in Calcasieu Parish schools were paid a visit by Bess the Book Bus.

Bess is the star of a mobile literacy program based out of Tampa, Fla. In partnership with CITGO Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex, the bus made stops at Brenda Hunter Head Start, Combre-Fondel Elementary, John F. Kennedy Early Learning Center and E.K. Key Elementary schools on Monday and Tuesday.

Bess the Book Bus was founded in 2002 by Jennifer Frances to increase book ownership among underserved students in asset limited communities in the United States.

Annually, 75,000 books are distributed to more than 45,000 children.

The bus makes stops in over 20 states a year.

Students will receive educational books such as National Geographic Kids books, or fictional classics like “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” “Pete the Cat,” “Elephant and Piggie,” “Splat the Cat,” and “Fly Guy.”

In 2009, CITGO teamed up with Bess the Book Bus through the CITGO Fueling Good educational program to promote literacy in area students, supporting their company values.

“At CITGO, our values guide everything we do,” said one Citgo Spokesperson. “This mobile literacy outreach program seeks to broaden access to books for all children, despite family income level, and break down barriers to education.”

CITGO’s fundamentals are “Safety, Health and Environment, Social Responsibility, Integrist, Availability, Respect, Competitiveness and Fairness.”

“These fundamentals keep us grounded, inspired and motivated … That’s why we support educational social initiatives that create meaningful impact.”

According to a CITGO representative, the company aims to empower people who contribute to the progress and economic growth in their own local communities.”

At the end of 2022, Bess the Book Bus celebrated its 20th birthday and gave away its one millionth book.