GREENWOOD COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — Hundreds of new books are now in the hands of some Greenwood County students.

“A book is a gift you can open more than once,” said Rice Elementary School first grade teacher and district teacher of the year Heather Calliham.

On Wednesday, Rice Elementary students lined up to pick out their own brand new book.

“We just want to make sure that they know they’re loved here at Rice,” said Amy Williams, the literary coach at Rice.

All of the books were donated and collected through a holiday drive hosted by Calliham and Williams.

“We wanted a way to bring the community together and we wanted to give a gift that would last for these children and be meaningful,” said Calliham.

With close to 500 students in the school, they said it was a tough task and were nervous about receiving enough books. But, they said the community stepped up.

“We were so overwhelmed by the community support, parents here, people who didn’t even have kids that go here, just donating books for us,” said Williams.

They said more than 600 books were collected throughout the drive. Now, every student at Rice has something to enjoy during winter break.

“I think that with books children can go on adventures, and they can learn characters. Books can take children places that they’ve never been before,” said Calliham.

It also keeps reading skills sharp, which Principal Leroy Platt said is an important tool for the next generation.

“It’s a skill that they’ll need throughout life,” said Platt. “You need reading every day, everywhere you go.”

Calliham said leftover books are being donated first-year teachers to help build their collections. School leaders hope to make the book drive an annual event, and eventually would like to expand it district-wide.