Books for Keeps blog

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
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!|

Benteen Elementary School is setting the bar high for reading success!

Here at Books for Keeps, we believe providing children with open, equal access to book allows them to connect the joy of reading with the thrill of discover, laying the foundation for a successful, fulfilling life. We work in service of this belief every day, purchasing high interest books that will excite young readers, creating joyful experiences through reading, and building relationships that will help us reach new schools.

One such relationship that we have worked hard over the last three years to grow is with our partners at the Waffle House Foundation. At the Waffle House Foundation, their goal is “to improve the quality of life in the communities [they] serve though the allocation of financial and human resources.” We know that books and a strong foundation for lifelong literacy have the power to improve anyone’s quality of life, and the Waffle House Foundation believes in our mission as well. That’s why, after visiting with us at Benteen Elementary School- a partner school in Atlanta that we’ve been serving for the past two year- and having the opportunity to speak with Benteen principal Dr. Andrew Lovett about the impact of our program, the Waffle House Foundation has committed to fully funding Benteen Elementary for the 2019.

Dr. Lovett feels acutely the power books have in the lives of his students. He describes Benteen elementary as being in a “literary desert,” five miles from the nearest library and in an area where food security takes precedence over other needs. Dr. Lovett is in his third year as principal at Benteen after moving from Dunbar Elementary, a school that Books for Keeps has been serving for the past three years. Each day, he and his dedicated staff work [...]

By |September 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Benteen Elementary School is setting the bar high for reading success!|

Meet our Board Vice President, Camilla Bracewell!

Written by special guest blogger, Camilla Bracewell
(part of a new monthly series)
I first learned about Books for Keeps (BFK) in one of the first years of the organization when volunteers were collecting used books to distribute to children in the classrooms. Our granddaughter and I did a small book drive in about 2012 and collected children’s books that we donated. In 2014, I volunteered at a book distribution, and I was hooked! Not too long after that, I was asked to serve on the board and I was honored and touched by that invitation. I have been on the board for the past 3 years.   
When I think about why I am so committed to BFK, for me it is a no-brainer. I was raised in a home where reading and books were an important part of everyday life. We raised our daughter in a home, again, where reading and books were an important part of her life. When our granddaughter came along, I told my daughter that I would not be purchasing a lot of toys for her but that I would purchase books for her and that I would read to her at every opportunity…which my husband and I have done. To know that there are children in our community who do not have books in their home and who do not have someone to read to them on a regular basis breaks my heart. I can’t read to every child who wants or needs to be read to, but I can do all I can to ensure that those children have access to books each spring…and I will do that in any way possible for as long as I [...]

By |September 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet our Board Vice President, Camilla Bracewell!|

It’s time to meet our 2018 grade-level sponsors!

After concluding our biggest school distribution season ever AND our most successful book sale to date, we are looking back over the supporters who have made these endeavors possible. Each year, we are able to distribute tens of thousands of books to thousands of children thanks to donors like you. And Books for Keeps’s grade-level sponsors are a big part of that success!

Our grade-level sponsors are responsible for keeping an ENTIRE GRADE up to speed and reading all summer long! With a minimum contribution of $2,500, our grade-level sponsors can designate their gift for any grade they choose at any of the schools we serve. Keep reading to learn more about the 2017-2018 grade-level sponsors making a difference in our schools.

Celia Baker of IntelliGRACS Group is the longest standing of our grade-level sponsors. Not only has Celia continued to support our year-end giving campaign each year since our founding, her generosity is also responsible for the donation that made us an official 501c3! Her annual support is a powerful reminder that the work we do in the community isn’t just changing the lives of students, it is also inspiring other community members to get involved.

And Celia isn’t alone! Here is the full list of grade-level sponsors who have been inspired by our mission:

Wells Fargo Foundation
Exhibitus, Inc.
Jefferson Energy Cooperative Foundation
Georgia-Pacific Foundation
Joe Irving
Walton Electric Trust Foundation
100+ Women Who Care Athens
Todd & Lisa Van Meter
Classic City Rotary Club
Phicas Foundation
Bulldog 93.3

Are you or someone you know interested in becoming a sponsor? Check out our Sponsor Package for information on how we will recognize your gift.

By |September 6th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on It’s time to meet our 2018 grade-level sponsors!|

Meet our Board President, Sheneka Williams!

Written by special guest blogger, Sheneka Williams

When I first joined the board for Books for Keeps, I knew very little about the organization. I joined, however, because I thought it was a worthy cause. As an educator, I understand very well the importance of reading: For example, literacy, reading comprehension, vocabulary…all improve when a child reads.

I enjoy the passion that board members bring when sharing the gift of books with the community. This is especially evident at book distributions and during the book sale. I am constantly in awe of the joy that board members feel when giving, but I am also excited to witness the appreciation of children and families when receiving books from us or donating books to us. Books for Keeps is a win-win for everybody!

Books for Keeps has grown exponentially since I first joined the board. We are now almost in all Clarke County Schools, and we serve two schools in Elbert County and two schools in Atlanta Public Schools.  We expect to serve more schools throughout the state, but we must raise major funds in order to do so.

I’m in my second term as a board member, and I also serve as board president. I work best on the research committee and acting as a liaison with the UGA College of Education and with the Clarke County School District. That’s my wheelhouse, and I love doing what I can to connect the dots among the three entities.

By |August 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet our Board President, Sheneka Williams!|

Book Sale shifts are now live!

It’s time to sign up to help with the 2018 Books for Keeps Annual Book Sale! Our book sale is the largest fundraiser that we execute as an organization, and the event helps us purchase brand new books to give away in schools.  Every year, more than 40,000 books are donated to Books for Keeps, and most of those are destined for our book sale. Every year, the book sale has around 800 Friday, August 17, 2018 atrons and raises over $20,000! If you’re interested in being a part of this incredible event, keep reading!

When volunteering with our book sale, we will have you greeting shoppers, organizing books, helping patrons with their shopping, and checking out shoppers! We will have both seated and standing tasks, but be sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Please arrive a few minutes early for your shift, as there will be only a little overlap in volunteer sessions. See all available shifts listed below, and click the blue link to sign up!
Thursday, August 16, 2018 PREVIEW NIGHT 

evening shift only, 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Friday, August 17, 2018 

morning shift, 9:40am – 1:00pm
afternoon shift, 12:45pm — 4:15pm
evening shift, 4:00pm — 7:00pm

Saturday, August 18, 2018

morning shift, 9:40am – 1:00pm
afternoon shift, 12:45pm – 3:45pm
evening shift, 3:30pm — 6:30pm

Sunday, August 19, 2018

afternoon shift only, 11:40am – 4:30pm

Saturday, August 25, 2018

morning shift, 9:30am – 12:45pm [FULL] 
afternoon shift, 12:30pm – 3:30pm
evening shift, 3:15pm – 6:30pm

Sunday, August 26, 2018

afternoon shift, 11:40am – 4:00pm 
evening shift, 3:30pm – 6:30pm

By |July 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Book Sale shifts are now live!|

The Results Are In!

This spring, Media Specialist extraordinaire- and Books for Keeps enthusiast- Melissa Solomon conducted a quick survey with her 3rd through 5th grade students at Fowler Drive Elementary. Melissa wanted to know about the students’ reading habits and where they got the bulk of the books they read throughout the year.

Books for Keeps has been serving Fowler Drive Elementary School since becoming an official 501c3 in 2011, and to say that Fowler is special to us is putting it lightly. Each year, our experience at Fowler is one of joy and excitement, as students who have been in the program since kindergarten come to the media center to pick out their 12 books.

So imagine our joy when we saw the results of Melissa’s poll!!












It is incredible to us to see these numbers. This shows that for summer reading needs, most students say the majority of their books come from Books for Keeps. And that is exactly why we do what we do! We know that when school is out for summer, access to reading materials is one of the largest needs of students in the communities we serve.  We’re proud to see that students are taking the books they receive from Books for Keeps and reading them all summer.

To learn more about how you can help make our program a success year after year, click here.

By |July 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Results Are In!|

2018 Distributions Sign-ups are now LIVE!

It’s time to sign up for 2018 Books for Keeps distributions! Are you ready to be a part of our largest and most widespread book giveaways ever?! With the help of more volunteers than we’ve ever before had in a distribution season, we’ll be giving away 95,000 books to children at a record 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 are listed below. Simply click the link for each school to be taken to the GivePulse signup page for that school.  Each shift will be listed individually under the respective school, and you can sign up for multiple shifts at one time.  Once you have registered for your shift,  you will receive an email confirmation.

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, you can also add group members by selecting the “register a group” option and adding the names and email address for each member of your group. Each individual will receive a link to complete registration, and they must follow that link to secure their spot. If you have questions or run into issue while signing up, please email Louis Crow at

April 17-18, 2018: Dunbar Elementary School- Atlanta, GA
– April 17th morning shift, 8:45am – 10:40am[FULL] ;  afternoon shift, 11:15am – 1:30pm [FULL]
– April 18th morning shift, 9:00am – 11:55am; afternoon shift, 12:25pm – 2:45pm
April 23-24, 2018: Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School- Athens, GA
– April 23rd morning shift, 7:45am – 11:25am; afternoon shift, 11:25am – 2:45pm [FULL]
– April [...]

By |April 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on 2018 Distributions Sign-ups are now LIVE!|