An anonymous donor has given nearly 10,000 students in Columbus City Schools the gift of books.

An anonymous donor has given nearly 10,000 students in Columbus City Schools the gift of books.

Officials from the Columbus Foundation, Columbus City Schools and Columbus Metropolitan Library gathered Friday, May 15, at the Martin Luther King Branch on the Near East Side to announce the windfall, which puts a book apiece in the hands of every kindergartner and first-grader in the district.

Patrick Losinski, CEO of the library system, said the gift was a great segue into CML's Summer Reading Club, which kicks off May 30. Sign-up is necessary to participate in the club.

"This gift is tremendous and also helps shine a light on an issue very near and dear to us at Columbus Metropolitan Library, and that is the issue of early literacy," Losinski said.

"Our primary goal is to get books in the hands of kids, and our hope is that this gift will spark a love of reading for thousands of kids in Columbus."

The kindergarten class will get Pete the Cat while first-graders are set to receive Fly Guy. The books will be distributed the last week of school.

About 40 students from Eastgate Elementary School joined the ceremony Friday.

The anonymous donor's initial contribution of $500,000 started the Gifts of Kindness in September 2014. The community-focused fund helps area residents in need with things such as utility bills, transportation and medical needs, said Doug Kridler, president and CEO of the Columbus Foundation.

Gifts of Kindness has given close to $300,000 so far, said Lisa Courtice, executive vice president of community research and grants management at the Columbus Foundation. About 25 additional people, not all anonymous, have given money to the fund, Courtice said.

The donor's book gift cost $32,000, she said. The person also will pay for delivery of the books, she said.

Courtice said the Columbus Foundation was not ready to disclose specific contributions from the Big Give, a fundraising drive for 587 nonprofits that raised an overall $15 million May 13 and 14, but said she was pleased with the level of support.

"It's very reassuring," she said. "It's interesting, not only has the community given but we've had lots of staff give. They understand the nonprofit, that the smallest infusion of money can make a huge difference in somebody's life."