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Meet board member, Jennifer Welborn!

(part of a new monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

Fenwick Broyard. Shortly after moving to Athens, I started volunteering at Community Connection of Northeast Georgia. Fenwick suggested I check out BFK. He thought they had a position open. I’m not sure if they did but I researched the organization, fell in love and started volunteering in the warehouse and eventually at the book sale. This lead to being on the Development Committee and subsequent ad-hoc committees which led to the Board of Directors!

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

Volunteering in the warehouse since November 2015. Book sale and Development Committee since 2017 and on the board since January 2018.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

Why would I not?! It’s such an amazing organization! Reading and education were always important growing up. Reading opens up windows of opportunities and without it your options are limited. I have worked in the human services profession and provided direct service to individuals who cannot read or struggle with reading. I have seen the effects of what happens when we do not take the time to teach children to read. It has lasting effects.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps? (This can be a direct interaction or something you observed.) If so, tell us about it.

At last years book distribution, a student picked out twelve of the heaviest books. It was so heavy it trailed behind her. The bag had to weigh more than the student. In general, just seeing the smiles on kids faces. They light up like a Christmas tree! It’s the best [...]

2019 distributions first sign-ups are live! (more coming soon)

2019 Book Distribution sign-ups are officially going live! In a shift from previous years, we will be adding the shifts as they sign-ups are finished so that you can go ahead and sign up to volunteer at our earliest schools.  With your help, we’ll once more be giving away nearly 95,000 books to children at 18 schools in Athens, Atlanta, Warrenton, and Elberton. This is your chance to experience the joy of helping students in your community pick out 12 free books for summer – for keeps!  School-specific volunteer shifts will be coming soon, but official distribution dates have been finalized!

If you are part of a group (8 to 15 people) that would like to adopt and work an entire shift at a particular school, let us know now so that we can coordinate with you to reserve a shift. Email Program Manager
Justin Bray at justin@booksforkeeps.org

April 9-11, 2019: Elbert County Elementary School- Elberton, GA
– April 9th morning shift, 9:00am – 11:15am;  afternoon shift, 12:00pm – 2:30pm
– April 10th morning shift, 8:30am – 11:00am; afternoon shift, 12:00pm – 2:30pm
– April 11th morning shift, 9:00am – 11:30am; afternoon shift, 12:00pm – 3:00pm

April 18-19, 2019: Dunbar Elementary School- Atlanta, GA

April 23-24, 2019: Fowler Drive Elementary School- Athens, GA
– April 23rd morning shift, 8:00am – 11:00am;  afternoon shift, 11:45am – 2:30pm
– April 24th shift, 10:30am – 1:30pm

April 24, 2019: Downtown Academy- Athens, GA

April 25, 2019: Benteen Elementary School- Atlanta, GA

April 26 & 29, 2019: Gaines Elementary School- Athens, GA

April 29-30, 2019: Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 1-2, 2019: Barnett Shoals Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 2-3 & 6, 2019: Whitehead Road Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 3, 2019: Cleveland Road Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 6-7, 2019: Elbert County Primary School- Elberton, GA
– May 6th morning shift, 8:30am – 11:15am;  afternoon shift, 12:00pm – 2:30pm

We’re kicking off spring 2019 with Book Drive Month!

It’s our favorite way to kick off the spring- with Book Drive Month. Every spring, we kick up our community outreach and prepare for our annual book sale by invited community partners and new friends to host a book drive to benefit Books for Keeps. Book drives are our favorite way to share our passion with brand new community members!

This spring, we have another amazing group of book drive participants:

TSAV (kicked off last month, and still going!)
Fleet Feet Athens (kicked off last month, and still going!)
Wild Moon Studio
The Rook & Pawn
Piedmont Athens Regional (hosted by the Cardiology Dept.)
Em’s Kitchen
UGA Office of Service-Learning
Sorella Hair Studio
Sigma Tau Delta at UNG
Leon Farmer & Company
Oconee Street UMC
Synovus Bank of Watkinsville (Greensboro Hwy location)
Arbor Salon & Spa
Dove Creek Elementary School
Book Warehouse of Atlanta
Ashley Garrett (neighborhood-wide drive)
Classic City Orthodontics
Book Warehouse Locust Grove

In addition to these 18 book drives happening in March, our friends at Cotton Patch Quilters will be hosting a drive this summer in conjunction with First Presbyterian Church of Athens. This is an annual drive hosted by CPQ that last year gathered CARLOADS of books!!

We are thrilled to have such an incredible level of book drive participation in Athens and surrounding communities. And best of all, MANY of these businesses and organizations are first-time participants. That is a lot of new faces that will be learning about our program through these partners, and we are more grateful for that than we can say!

If you pop into one of these businesses or work with one of [...]

Meet board member, Patty Booth!

(part of a new monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

Board member Camilla Bracewell contacted me when the Development Committee was looking for fundraising ideas, and another board member, Joyce Waller, brought up bunco as an idea. They knew that I had organized bunco events before for Piedmont Athens Regional Hosital, so they asked me if I would like to help. I said “sure,” and my involvement started there!

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

I started volunteering with bunco planning in October of 2017 for the January 2018 Bunco for Books event, and I officially joined the Development Committee soon after.  I then joined the BFK board in January of this year.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

Camilla indicated that Books for Keeps was looking to grow their board and asked me if I would be interested- and I said yes. I had retired the fall before, and I knew that I wanted to up my involvement in volunteering. This organization is something that really appeals to me because of my love of reading and because it really speaks to my background as a manager. Helping students be better and have bigger futures directly impacts our future workforce, as well as their lives.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps? (This can be a direct interaction or something you observed.) If so, tell us about it.

My only opportunity to work with students so far was volunteering at the Athens Farmer’s Market last year, and it was great having the parents and kids come by our booth and talk about knowing about Books for [...]

By |February 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet board member, Patty Booth!|

Meet board member, Marne Matthews!

(part of a new monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

I first learned about Books for Keeps from a former Board Member, Joe Hill, who suggested I volunteer during Book Distribution.  I was immediately sold!  I loved seeing the excitement of the kids who were getting books.  It was like we were giving away candy, but we were giving them books!

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

I am a huge advocate of early childhood reading and truly believe teaching kids to read – and to love books – at an early age sets them up for the rest of their lives.   Books for Keeps does just that.  By letting children who may not have access to books choose books based on their interests, I believe it teaches them to enjoy reading.  It is important to separate required reading in schools from reading for pleasure.

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?  

I have been involved with many non profit organizations in Athens.  My primary focus has been United Way of NE Georgia where I volunteered over 25 years and served a Chairman of the Board for three years.  Before that, I served in several roles including Campaign Chair  and Womens Leadership Chair.  I am a huge supporter of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program managed by United Way in Athens that also supports early childhood reading.  I believe the DPIL progrtam and Books for Keeps compliment each other and provide all of the kids in Athens Clarke County the reading opportunities they need to be successful  in school and in life.

What strengths are you bringing to Books for Keeps?  

I retired from Athens First [...]

By |January 11th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet board member, Marne Matthews!|

Meet our Board Secretary, Jordan Burke!

(part of a new monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

I first learned about Books for Keeps through the Annual Book Sale. I have a voracious appetite for books (I think our collection is up in the 5 figure range now), and the sale always has a great selection. I learned more about the organization and the mission through some of the tech companies I’ve worked with in Athens (namely Seller Labs and BookScouter, via Brandon and Dustin Checketts), and I felt motivated to get more involved.

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

I’ve been serving on the Board of BFK since January (of 2018), and have had the opportunity to volunteer at some book distributions and the book sale. It’s a great experience, especially book distributions – watching the kids get pumped about picking out books is tons of fun.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

As I mentioned, I love reading – my dad was a teacher, and literacy of all kinds has always been a passion of mine. Working with an organization like BFK is an opportunity to advance that passion. A love of reading translates to a love of learning, which I think is a key ingredient in enjoying life and being successful.

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?  

I’ve also been involved in improving technical literacy and helping develop technology skills through Four Athens. Through teaching technology and coding classes, as well as a stint as Executive Director, I worked in the community to help tech-focused startups get off the ground, and helped develop a workforce that could support those startups.

What strengths are you [...]

By |December 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet our Board Secretary, Jordan Burke!|

Meet board member, Julie Denton!

(part of a new monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

Through a book drive at First American Bank & Trust

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

Beyond donating books, I have been serving Books for Keeps since August. 

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

I grew up loving to read, and trips to the library throughout the summer were always a highlight.  Providing access to books to kids in  my community for that oh so sweet summer-reading that can also enrich their lives, and have positive long-term effects, like graduating high school, excites me.  Making an impact with the potential for long-term positive results for the children in our community, yes please.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps? Tell us about it!

When I volunteered at this year’s book sale, my first, a whole family came in with their bags from book distribution day at their school last year.  These kids ranged in age from 4-13, and they were truly excited to re-fill their bags.  It was such a visible positive effect of the program.  Honestly, it hit me right in the feels. 

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?  

Yes, the United Way of Northeast Georgia, Java Joy, and  I serve as head of our Community Involvement Committee at First American.  This role gives me the opportunity to learn about and interact with many local non-profits.

What strengths are you bringing to Books for Keeps?  

Mostly upper body, kidding.  I’m bringing marketing experience and a whole load of passion for making a difference in our community.  A difference with long-term effects for improving [...]

By |November 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet board member, Julie Denton!|

Meet our Board Treasurer, Laura Evans!

(part of a new monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

I had come across information about BFK from social media and news articles over the years and always admired the work of the organization.  When BFK reached out to our school superintendent about possibly serving Elbert County, he asked me to become involved early on. I met with Leslie and was hooked immediately.

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

I started volunteering at the very first book distribution in Elbert County (2016) and joined the board in October, 2017.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

I wanted to increase my personal commitment to BFK and also wanted to represent Elbert County.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps? Tell us about it!

The joy on the faces of the students during book distribution inspires me.  More than once, I have overheard students saying “This is the best day ever!”

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?

I am the executive director of Community Partnership of Elbert County, Inc., which is a non-profit that manages the local Family Connection Collaborative activities and provides programs and services to improve outcomes for families and children in Elbert County.  Over the years I have worked with various other non-profits in our community.

What strengths are you bringing to Books for Keeps?

My passion for wanting every child to have the best possible chances for a happy, healthy, and educated life.  I also believe that my almost 18 years as the executive director of a non-profit allows me the ability to understand the unique challenges of non-profit work.

What is your [...]

By |October 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet our Board Treasurer, Laura Evans!|

It’s our biggest Book Drive Month ever!

We’ve declared Book Drive Month a holiday, and the celebration is going strong! Each year during the month of October, organizations and businesses in the areas we serve volunteer to host book drives to benefit Books for Keeps. Book drives help us collect books for our program and our book sale, but more than that, book drives help us share our passion for literacy with new stakeholders. You can join in the celebration by helping us thank these participating businesses and organizations:

New College at UGA (hosted by Sara Kirkpatrick)
Girl Scout Troop #12140
Rotary Club of the Classic City
Athens YMCA
Piedmont Athens Regional
Edwards Jones, Denise Ricks
Bank South Mortgage
Canopy Studio (hosted by Sara Kirkpatrick)
First Book UGA
Sigma Tau Delta at UNG
MEDLIFE at UGA
Leah Leggett Real Estate

In addition to these book drives happening in October, Belk at Georgia Square Mall, Book Warehouse of Atlanta, and 2nd & Charles of Athens have all just concluded book drives to coincide with the beginning of the school year. And our partners at UGA AMSA will be hosting a drive in January to kick off the new year on a giving foot!

WHEW! That’s a lot of book drives! And each one will help us get more books to more kids next spring. If you pop into one of these businesses this fall or work with one of these organizations, please thank them for their support of Books for Keeps. If you’re a BFK drop location, please stay in touch during Book Drive Month if you need a pick-up!

By |October 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on It’s our biggest Book Drive Month ever!|

Giving Tuesday – it’s the new Black Friday!

by BFK Executive Director Leslie Hale

If your family is like mine, the week surrounding Thanksgiving is spent with one foot in two mental worlds – the chaos of concentrated time with extended family, and the warmth of reflecting on the blessings we’ve received and shared with others.

That’s why I love Giving Tuesday.

During this decade, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving has grown as a focal point for sharing these blessings – a way to pay forward the abundance we’ve received in our own lives, while starting the giving season off right. Maybe it’s just because I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper, but I adore the very idea of a day focused on what we can do for others – all of it following the excesses of food, drink, and shopping that come with Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

This year’s Giving Tuesday falls on November 27. As we have in the past few years, Books for Keeps will use Giving Tuesday as an official launch for our year-end child sponsorship campaign. For 24 hours on that day, we will have a challenge in effect from the Books for Keeps board to bring in as many donations as possible toward a single goal. For each dollar we raise toward that goal, the Books for Keeps board will match those donations.

We’ll be ready to announce our goal a little closer to the date – for now, just mark your calendars. It’s a terrific opportunity to double your dollars donated to BFK – effectively sponsoring two children for every $30 you donate.

We have put these challenge goals on the table in the past, but this will be the first time our fundraising challenge is being put [...]

By |October 2nd, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Giving Tuesday – it’s the new Black Friday!|