“We might just pull this thing off.”

It’s a regular phrase uttered during staff meetings and as we sign off from phone calls with each other, in all sorts of seasons. Books for Keeps has always been a scrappy organization – occasionally punching above our weight class, and ALWAYS looking for new ways to problem-solve in the face of hurdles.

Lately, we find ourselves saying this a lot (sometimes just to the dog or the cat in our home office) as we turn our operation on its head so we can reach students in the most unusual of circumstances. What was once a program that deployed thousands of books and hundreds of volunteers into schools is set to enter students’ homes through their computers or a parent’s smartphone, or even in direct phone calls from a teacher to a parent saying, “I’m calling to help you order your Books for Keeps books.”

In the past seven weeks, Books for Keeps has placed nearly our entire inventory of 80,000+ books onto an e-commerce website for students in Clarke County to shop. Meanwhile, we have partnered with a book wholesale company out of South Carolina, Reading Warehouse, to create an online shopping experience for students we serve in Elbert, Warren, and Fulton counties.

Eight weeks ago, we wondered how on earth we would be able to serve the 9,000 students who expected us in their schools this spring. Seven weeks ago, we hatched a plan – the brain-child of Program Manager Justin Bray – that felt just crazy enough to work. (Justin is the dreamer on our staff, and we’re continually aware of how fortunate we are to have a mix of conceptual minds and analytical thinkers on both our staff [...]