Monthly Archives: May 2011

Clinton Global Initiative !!!

What happened to the break we were planning to take when we wrapped up our book distributions? Well, in May we looked 1,000 children in the eyes and promised we’d be back next year. So we are grabbing every opportunity that comes our way… books, books, books. There’s simply no time to rest.I’ve had trouble writing about my experience distributing books this year. How can a few paragraphs convey something so… something. Why has no word been invented for this? I do have a picture that inspires me to no end:Books and joy. Maybe those words are enough.Speaking of grabbing opportunities… this one found us: Books for Keeps has been invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative’s CGI America conference in Chicago this June. (Seriously.) What an amazing opportunity for Books for Keeps, and for our efforts to keep Athens kids reading during summer.It’ll take some work to get ready… we don’t even have business cards! But we have books, a program based on solid research, a distribution model that works, and committed partners, donors, and volunteers. What a difference a year makes.Right now we’re working on the public commitment we’ll make to Athens children as part of our participation in CGI America. Commitment, as in: we WILL do something new and measurable. Public, as in: humiliation if we don’t! This past year’s approach was “Can we do it? Let’s wait and see.” Not so for May of 2012.This public commitment doesn’t scare me. You know what does? Facing the kids at Alps, Fowler and Stroud if we don’t have books for them again next year. I have complete [...]

Cathy’s Story

Cathy’s involvement with Books for Keeps started with a short email: “I can help.” What an understatement! There are several thousand books in happy new homes thanks to Cathy and her book-raising efforts, and her entire family of five volunteers for Books for Keeps. She took a day away from her job at Whatever It Takes (the organization providing our sort and storage rooms) to volunteer at our Alps book distribution. Here’s Cathy’s take on the day:————Hearing a collective gasp rise out of each and every class of students after Melaney tells them they will select and take home 12 books each is the most wonderful, heart-filling moment of book distribution day. The children’s faces are amazing to watch as their jaws drop and they start hopping around with the anticipation of choosing and keeping their own books. I wish that everyone who has sent in books, made a donation, volunteered their time and energy to Books for Keeps could watch and experience how wonderful it is for those books to arrive where they are supposed to be: with the kids.The kids truly, truly appreciate what you all have given to them.Their sense of ownership with the books is immediate.Their happiness and excitement about reading their books is palpable.These kids know what they want to read and they are thrilled when they find the types of books they want on those tables.I loved helping girls find princess books, helping boys find the much treasured joke books and animal books. The kids are awesome and each class that came through the doors on book distribution day was an absolute pleasure to serve.All the work through [...]

By |May 16th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Cathy’s Story|

Kim’s Story

Kim K has been one of Books for Keeps’ most faithful book sorters this year, and attended almost every elementary school book distribution. In fact, I had to force her to take a day of rest. Here is her Books for Keeps story, in her own words.——-Reading has always been a big part of my life, from the earliest days when my mom read to me. I still read every night before I go to bed, sometimes staying up late to finish a good story. What a joy I’d have missed out on if I’d not been exposed to reading at an early age! I’m a scientist. I like facts, and here’s one: continual exposure to books and reading during summer helps kids stay at the top of their game. It’s why I started volunteering with Books for Keeps; they’re working to eliminate barriers standing in the way of every child’s access to books.Helping sort books this past year was rewarding; I even find it relaxing.Book distributions, however, are FUN! Over the last few days I was fortunate enough to volunteer at distributions at all three elementary schools. I learned firsthand what these kids WANT to read, what they are genuinely excited about, enough to make them drop video games or other distractions to exercise their minds.Books about sports, princesses, fairies, sharks, Junie B. Jones, and Captain Underpants… the kids knew what they wanted, and I felt like a rock star every time I helped a child find just the right book. My favorite highlights?- A Fowler student yelling “thanks for the books!” from the window of her school bus while holding up her bag [...]

By |May 15th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Kim’s Story|

This is My Story and I’m Sticking To It

Leigh and her entire family have been involved with Books for Keeps since our very first book distribution… before we even had a name. They’ve contributed everything from books and funds to lumber for shelving and aprons for this year’s distributions. Was it worth a vacation day for Leigh to work one of our book distributions? She’ll tell you herself.——————-I have always wanted to be a Sea Turtle Lady. You know, live on a South Carolina beach, walking the shoreline in the early mornings searching for turtle tracks and checking the nests. But no more. Nope. Done. I am now a Books for Keeps Lady.I have been around since the inception of Books for Keeps but due to my work schedule, usually offer financial support more so than time. Last Thursday though, I took a day away from the office and attended the Stroud Elementary school distribution. Wow – all I can say is Wow. Melaney had warned me that I might get emotional, that the children were amazing and how it had changed her life. It was all that and more. (I mean, I am almost giving up my dream of living on a low country beach…..)I am not sure what impresses me more – the dedicated and receptive staff and teachers of Stroud, or the exuberance of a media specialist that renews and reminds me of why I have always loved the library. All of this before even the first child arrives through the door.I donned a BFK apron – and was immediately transformed into, dare I say “rock star” status? I have never worn a Santa suit – but [...]

By |May 11th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on This is My Story and I’m Sticking To It|

Going… going… GONE!

Our 2011 book distributions are coming to a close. The Books for Keeps’ shelves are empty! We’re committed to reaching more schools next year, so we’ll need exponentially more books, and a new facility, too. (Check out the top-right side of this page for ways you can help.)Funding will be our new challenge this year. The kids asked over and over for more current, popular books than we typically get from our book drives. We hope to raise funds to purchase those books this year. And let’s face it: operating on such a large scale costs money.A perfect example: Books for Keeps was faced with delivering over 250 boxes of books to 4 different schools, and the cost to do so would have wiped out our bank account. I was truly beginning to fear a crisis.Our sort and storage rooms were filled to capacity. The storage room shelves were groaning…The sorting tables were groaning….Two Men and a Truck of Athens rescued us with just 2 days to spare. It was an all-day event for David and Terrance, who should have been wearing Superman capes as far as I’m concerned. They delivered books to Alps….They delivered books to Stroud…They delivered books to Fowler…They delivered books to Clarke Middle… and would you believe, they achieved 100% accuracy on getting each box to the right school? They even stacked the boxes by reading level so we’d have an easier time getting to the right books at the right time.On behalf of everyone at Books for Keeps, and the kids who received the contents of 250 boxes of books: thank you Two Men and a Truck, for [...]

By |May 11th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Going… going… GONE!|

A Word from Our Master Moocher

Many of you are familiar with Kay H, from Greenville, who manages our BookMooching activities and receives the majority of our mail-in book donations. What a blessing Kay has been to Books for Keeps! Here is her take on her first Books for Keeps distribution event.Thank you Kay!————I was given the opportunity to help out with this year’s first distribution of books at Alps Road Elementary School. I’ve been requesting and receiving books for Books for Keeps from the BookMooch account, where over the last six months, over 3,000 books have been collected. It’s been fun, but a lot of work sometimes and the chance to see the next step in the process was exciting.It was unbelievably rewarding. I wish that every one of you who has collected books for Books for Keeps, who has scoured thrift stores and begged books from friends and relatives, every one of you who has carefully packaged up and mailed books or donated points, could see how excited the kids were about getting to choose twelve books for themselves, to read and to keep.Thank you all for the care you took to find books in good shape and to find the right books. It matters. The kids were so varied in their reactions; some leaped for the Captain Underpants or Goosebumps books, some were overwhelmed by the choice and needed someone to guide them carefully through selecting their books, and some knew exactly what they wanted and were willing to ask for help finding it.After choosing their books, the kids would gather to count and compare their books, volunteers there to discuss why they had chosen the books they had. The kids were excited to show [...]

By |May 9th, 2011|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Word from Our Master Moocher|

How to Donate Your Books

Books for Keeps has a great need for new or gently-used books for children and young adults in Pre-K through 12th grade. We accept books of any kind (except encyclopedias & textbooks), for children or adults.

We use what we can in various youth programs (including adult books suitable for high school students), and what we can’t use, we sell at our annual book sale fundraiser.  For more information, contact us at

Athens-Area Drop-off Locations: (Map)

Alvin Hurst Allstate: 760 Hawthorne, Suite D; 9-5 Mon-Fri

Mack McClung Allstate: 2971 Monroe Hwy, Suite 103; 9-5 Mon-Fri

Merryn Walker Allstate 1720 Epps Bridge Pkwy, Suite 400; 9-5 Mon-Fri

Scott A Beaver Allstate Watkinsville – 2410 Hog Mtn Rd, Suite 101; 9-5 Mon-Fri

UGA Campus*: Coverdell Bldg, 500 DW Brooks Dr, Room 330A. 8-6, Mon-Fri
*For large donations, contact Leslie in advance for a trunk-to-trunk transfer

U.S. Mail
The US Postal Service offers a special Media Mail rate that makes shipping books surprisingly affordable. (For example, it only costs about $4 to mail 30-40 paperback Junie B Jones books.) We recommend our mail-in donors focus on current, popular books with colorful covers for elementary school children. Books with old-fashioned covers or excessive wear and tear are not as popular with the students.

Mail your books to our warehouse:
Books for Keeps
420 Athena Dr.
Athens, GA 30601

By |May 8th, 2011|How You Can Help|Comments Off on How to Donate Your Books|

One down, three to go

We distributed 12 books per child yesterday to every student in kindergarten through 2nd grades at Alps Elementary, and today we went back to do the same for every student in third through fifth grades.It was fabulous. Thrilling. Exhausting. But mostly… motivating. Everyone there agreed: seeing those happy faces makes us want to try harder. Find more books, reach more kids. We learned a lot, took great notes, and when our feet stop hurting and our brains return to fully-functioning, we’ll get busy sharing every detail with you.For now, here are a few starter pictures. I’m working on media releases that will allow me to share pictures of the kids. Until then, here’s what I can share:First, Kay arrived with nearly 2,500 books in her car. She was only able to bring a teeny, tiny suitcase because her car was so full. Scamp supervised the unloading of the books.Our Pi Beta Phi volunteers: what would we have done without them? They worked HARD, and were especially great at talking to the kids about specific books. Having them there really made a difference. Not just in workload; I mean the kids connected with them and it mattered. Thank you, Pi Phi girls!The only picture I managed to snag of our Books for Keeps volunteers. Major omission! But here are Kay, Kim and Cathy, during the only 10-second period they stood still long enough for a photo. No such luck with Whitney, Jennifer and Melanie. You women are amazing and I’m so honored to work with you.The “Wall ‘O Books”: These bags full of books [...]

Donating Funds to Books for Keeps

Help end summer slide for one or more children today.  $25 is all it takes to provide 1 child with 12 books – and a tote bag for carrying them.

Send your tax deductible donation to Books for Keeps, PO Box 49761, Athens GA 30604 – OR – donate via our website.

For class sponsorships:
$480 will provide 12 books to every child in an entire class this May.  If members of your group are donating individually, instruct them to include a memo with the name of your group so we can tally the donations. Then email your story and pictures to We’ll post your story on our web site.

For gift donations:
Include your name, the recipient’s name, and your email address with your donation. We’ll email you a printable certificate.

For memorial donations:
Include your name, the name of the person you’re honoring, and the name and address for the recipient of the memorial letter.

 For the Wimpy Kid fund:
Mention “Wimpy Kid” in the memo section and we’ll purchase 1 copy of the newest title for every $3.05 donated.

By |May 1st, 2011|How You Can Help|Comments Off on Donating Funds to Books for Keeps|

How to Hold a Books for Keeps Book Drive

Holding a Books for Keeps book drive can be as simple as putting a box in your garage or office and sending an email to let folks know it’s there. You’ll be surprised how many books you get, but we’re happy whether you collect 25 books or 2,500 books.

For larger book drives, we can help with communications and logistics if needed.

Regardless of size, we’ll provide printable signs and logos, and messaging to include in an email, Facebook post, newsletter or other bulletin.

We hope you’ll consider holding a book drive soon, whether large or small. Contact us at