By Barbara Hagen • November 29, 2021
It's Giving Tuesday, or what we here at ThriftBooks call ThriftGiving Tuesday! Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Cyber Monday and is a day focused on a "global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform communities and the world." Our ThriftBooks Cares program strives to do this every day, so I like to think that today is the day the rest of the world joins with us to give back to our communities.
Literacy is one of our three core tenets and there is no more impactful way to drive improvements in literacy than through supporting childhood reading. Earlier this summer, ThriftBooks donated 300,000 books to Orion Jean's Race to Kindness drive to donate 500,000 books to kids in need. All of us at ThriftBooks were excited to host Orion, his family, and one of his key non-profit partners, Book Drive for Kids, at our Dallas area Processing Center back in September. We followed up that visit with two in person Free Book Fairs in the Dallas area as we work to get these hundreds of thousands of books into the hands and homes of kids everywhere.
For this year's ThriftGiving Tuesday, all of us here at ThriftBooks are super excited to highlight Book Drive for Kids and support the amazing work they are doing in partnership with Race to Kindness (and for kids everywhere) by donating 1% of our net sales today, Tuesday November 30, directly to Book Drive for Kids.
The Race to Kindness brought many new donors, new books, and new volunteers to Book Drive for Kids. With the increased book donations Race to Kindness brought in, Book Drive for Kids are able to give each child more books at the free book fairs. In 2022, the partnership with ThriftBooks will allow their free book fairs to expand into more cites.
More than that, the enthusiasm of Orion Jean and his family has inspired Book Drive for Kids to dream a little bigger! The amazing response of donors and volunteers to the Race to Kindness has demonstrated that, while the need is great, the generosity and kindness of others to help each other is even greater.
We are proud to partner with ThriftBooks for Giving Tuesday to help further the mission of Book Drive for Kids. As a result of this donation, the reach of Book Drive for Kids will continue to expand to provide more children with countless adventures and stories, which can both enrich and entertain.—Orion Jean, Founder of Race to Kindness
According to Michelle Cook at Book Drive for Kids, "This donation from ThriftBooks could not come at a more impactful time! The Wall Street Journal reports that children lost 116 days of reading due to the pandemic. Children attending low-performing schools were hit disproportionately hard by school closures and lost family income (Stanford Report). That lost learning has yet to be recovered. We, at Book Drive for Kids have seen this firsthand at our free book fairs this fall. The demand for beginning readers spans kindergarten to third grade. Students selecting early chapter books are from 6 months to one year older than before COVID."
Cook continued, "Fortunately, the need is being met with equally as strong enthusiasm and appreciation for the gift of a book. Children WANT to learn to read better and having books at home can make that possible. Thank you, ThriftBooks, and all the Race to Kindness donors, for enabling us to expand our programming and increase the number of books we are able to distribute."
In 2017, Michelle Cook was having coffee with a new friend who was a teacher at a new Title I school with 90% economically disadvantaged students, of whom 50% had not yet mastered the English language. This teacher was lamenting the lack of books in her student's homes as well as their amazement that she read just for fun. Reading for pleasure was a new concept to them - a true paradigm shift! Reading was something you did at school because you were required to do it.
"This is an injustice," Michelle said. "Every child should be read to and have access to a wide variety of books." As a teacher and a mother, Michelle knew the impact of reading great books in the lives of her own children. Immediately, she reached out to her friends asking for books that their own kids had outgrown so she could stock classroom libraries at this new school. The response was amazing! In a short time, she collected 2,000 books!
Next, Michelle and her friend, Nicol Klingenstein, decided to offer a free book fair with some of the donated books. The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic from both students and teachers!
That was five years ago. To date, Book Drive for Kids has interacted with 40,000 kids, gifting them with books, primarily in the DFW area. The ripple effect of the simple gift of a book has been a win-win for both the students and the all-volunteer organization. The students are thrilled to receive a book but almost as impactful is seeing and knowing that people they haven't met care enough about them to allow them to pick a book of their choice. For the volunteers, in a world rattled with conflict and bad news, volunteering with Book Drive for Kids has given them a path to "do something" by way of offering hope and a smile to a needy child.
With this new partnership with ThriftBooks, Michelle, Nicol, and their supporters are exploring additional ways to get more books in the hearts and homes of these needy kids. In 2021, Book Drive for Kids opened a chapter in Austin, Texas while still offering outdoor and remote book fairs.
In 2022, they hope to expand their free book fairs, to introduce a new program where children can request additional free books to be mailed to them, and they are exploring the creation of a BookMobile program.