LEMONT, Ill. – Oct. 24, 2016 – During the month of September, Bess the Book Bus, Inc., sponsored by the CITGO Lemont Refinery, visited local students at the Bernard Ward Elementary School in Bolingbrook and the Irene King Elementary School in Romeoville to spread the joy of reading. During the visits, Bess the Book Bus founder Jennifer Frances read books to students who then visited the bus to pick out a free book to take home. Approximately 391 books were distributed.
Founded by Frances in 2002, Bess the Book Bus, Inc.’s mission is to promote literacy and provide underserved children with access to new and engaging books. Frances has grown the program into one of the nation's most innovative mobile literacy initiatives. Each year, she and her network of volunteers travel with Bess the Book Bus reading to children, promoting literacy and giving many youngsters their first new book.
According to Irene King Elementary School principal April Vacik, Bess the Book Bus’ visit was a big hit with both the students and the teachers. She hopes the bus will make annual visits to their school and continue to encourage the students to read.
“The kids loved it! They are used to checking books out of the library, but being able to keep a book was very special for them,” said Vacik.
Frances dedicated the bus in memory of her grandmother, Bess O’Keefe, on the simple premise of bringing the pleasure of reading to children everywhere. From humble beginnings with a Volkswagen Van, Frances now visits children nationwide, giving tens of thousands of books away to children of all ages in a fully stocked mobile library.
“Children across the U.S. are able to experience the pride and joy of book ownership because of sponsors like CITGO. CITGO is building home libraries and lifelong readers,” said Frances.
CITGO has been sponsoring Bess the Book Bus since 2009. With support from sponsors like CITGO, Bess the Book Bus has visited 48 states, reached more than 100,000 children and donated more than 500,000 books.
“CITGO believes in the power of education and is committed to nurturing the ongoing learning experiences that fuel knowledge in our communities---equipping the workforce for the future," said Jim Cristman, vice president of the CITGO Lemont Refinery. “The visit to local schools by Bess the Book Bus, Inc. is just one example of how CITGO supports education both locally and at the national level.”
The CITGO Lemont Refinery is marking its 90th year of operations in 2016. Located 35 miles southwest of Chicago, the CITGO Lemont Refinery contributes more than $300 million every year to the area’s economy and thousands of volunteer hours supporting local organizations. The refinery is capable of processing heavy crude oil into a variety of products, including approximately 7 million gallons of gasoline per day, as well as diesel, propane and aviation turbine fuel.
About the CITGO Lemont Refinery
For over 90 years, CITGO Lemont Refinery has employed more than 750 Chicago area residents on a full-time and contract basis in support of the local economy. In addition to producing high quality fuels for a large portion of the network of nearly 5,500 locally-owned CITGO stations across the country, Lemont Refinery employees also make a major positive impact on the community. Each year, more than 2,500 volunteer hours and thousands of dollars are given in support of community programs such as Muscular Dystrophy Association, United Way and a variety of environmental and preservation programs. Operations at the Lemont Refinery began in 1925 with a major expansion, doubling the facility, in 1933. Over the years, new units were added to meet the demand for a better quality of gas for automobiles, aviation fuel for WWII, and the production of asphalt. Petróleos de Venezuela, PDVSA, acquired 100% ownership of the refinery in 1997 and began operations as CITGO Lemont Refinery. For more information, visit www.citgorefining.com/Lemont.
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit www.CITGO.com.