2011 Book Distributions

Making the "Thank You" Rounds!

Wow. I’m flipping through my notebook and that’s the word that comes to mind as I review the past couple weeks: WOW.I’m just going to jump right in.The customers of City Salon & Spa continue to donate books, thanks in large part to Shayne McBride’s never-ceasing effort to spread the word. Thank you all!The Books for Keeps “Out of State Angels” are out in full force. I have to tell you, I get such a boost from these women. I feel like they’re right here with me sorting books. So thank you, yet again, to Katherine in Kerrville TX; Heather in Yuma AZ; Donna in Mississauga Canada; Michelle in Kingston Canada; Jan in Davis CA; Peta in the UK; Carrie in New Ulm MN; Meg in CA; Sandra in Ontario Canada; Mary in Reidsville… all are sending books, donating funds, donating points, and/or proactively scouring thrift stores to find books on our wish lists. I hope I didn’t forget anyone… you ladies have a special place in my heart. BookMoochers continue to keep us flush with points, and as always their generosity is humbling. They give Books for Keeps a truly international base of supporters. Breaker and “annlchasek” in NY, Raoul in Canada, R&D in NE, Kath in OH, Emily and Kathleen in MN, Abigail in WI, Frank in MI, Robin in GA, Elizabeth in TX, Tania in France, Elizabeth in SC, Susan in CO, Renee in PA, Jeremy in CT, Sugar Creek Ranch in OR, and Laura in CA – thank you for the points! You’re helping us more than you can imagine.And speaking of BookMoochers: where would we be without Kay in Greenville SC? [...]

By |February 16th, 2011|2011 Book Distributions, Shout Out|Comments Off on Making the "Thank You" Rounds!|

Good News, Bad News

Our May deadline for distributing books draws closer and closer, and it’s an emotional roller-coaster around here. Good News/Bad News #1:The good news – I have cleared the backlog of books awaiting inspection in the sort room. What a relief! Every book has been logged and sorted into “Use” vs. “Can’t Use”. All that’s left is to sort by age and box for storage.The bad news – Donations have slowed down enough to allow me to catch up, and this really scares me. I’d rather be perpetually behind due to an overwhelming number of donations, wouldn’t you?Good News/Bad News #2: The good news – the school district has chosen 3 schools to receive our books this May. I can’t tell you the names until I meet with them. But it’s exciting to know where the books will be going.The bad news – we don’t have enough books for the 3rd school. I wish I could shrug it off and say “well, we’ve accomplished a lot… maybe next year” but I simply can’t do that. We need approximately 6,000 more books in the next 2 months.Last May, I put out a call for help requesting 800 books in 12 days. You responded by drowning me in books; something like 1700 books in 12 days. Can we pull off another miracle? Can we collect 6,000 usable children’s books in 2 months? I really don’t know. We’ve collected 12,000 books in 7 months, so this will certainly qualify as a miracle.Please think hard about how you can help, even if you live outside Athens. A few ideas:- Consider Media Mail: You can mail a 10 [...]

By |February 9th, 2011|2011 Book Distributions|Comments Off on Good News, Bad News|

Thank you, BookMooch users!

Kay, our volunteer in South Carolina who handles all Books for Keeps “bookmooching”, has been working hard to make sure we don’t run out of points. Once again, I’m blown away by the generosity of BookMooch users all over the world, using points to make a difference right here in Athens.BookMooch is one of our best sources of books because we get to choose the books we know kids will love, and they arrive in good condition with very little sorting required. And BookMoochers hold a special place in my heart because they provided much of the momentum that got Books for Keeps started.I mentioned a few of our point donors in a post last week, but there are some new names this time: Lauren in South Carolina, Val in California, Sheena in Arkansas, Elizabeth in Canada, Andrea in Spain, and Gail in New Hampshire – thank you!And I’m thrilled when I see the names of some of our earliest supporters too: Jan in Davis, CA, Peta & Heather in the UK, Donna in Canada… what would we do without you? Thank you again and again and again.Kay will be busy mooching books with this new influx of points… can’t wait to see what we get.

By |January 27th, 2011|2011 Book Distributions, Shout Out|Comments Off on Thank you, BookMooch users!|

11,000 books, and still counting…

The tally is up to 11,426 after Saturday’s volunteer sort day, and there are still books waiting to be counted. That’s 11,426 books that have been inspected, sorted by age, and boxed for distribution in May.Thank you Kim, Cathy, Aspen, Morgan & Leigh! Your help made a world of difference in slogging through the backlog of books waiting for inspection. And thank you Bayne, for dismantling and moving the book shelves out of harm’s way, and rigging a tarp system only an engineer could conceive.Our books are temporarily safe from future roof leaks, and I’m looking for a new space. We’re completely out of storage space and we’ve outgrown the sort room too. What a wonderful, welcome problem to have! Of course I have no ideas (or funds) for how to solve it, but I trust our needs will be met in some way I haven’t thought of yet.We don’t count the adult books as we box them, but I’d guess there are 7,000-10,000 of those too. Whitney, Leigh and Cindy are organizing a book sale, and I’m so hopeful it’ll be complete in time for me to purchase books for the May distribution. I’m especially thankful that these women are handling everything. All I have to do is show up and sell books. Thank you!In other news: we’re a registered non-profit corporation in Georgia; thank you Celia and IntelliGRACS Group for covering the cost! This means we can file for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, making us eligible for tax deductible contributions, grants, etc. It’s so close I can almost taste it, but it’s going to take a while.I [...]

By |January 27th, 2011|2011 Book Distributions|Comments Off on 11,000 books, and still counting…|

Ten. Thousand. Books.

I make a note in my little Books for Keeps notebook every time I seal up another box of inspected/approved books in the storage room, but it’s been a while since I sat down and added up the official inventory count. Til today.10,113 books! Inspected, sorted by reading level, and approved for distribution to kids in grades K-12.And we haven’t finished counting. The sort room is full of books just waiting for the next volunteer sort day. I know, I know, we need a lot more, but I’m taking a moment to celebrate and say THANK YOU to everyone who’s helped us reach this point. Book donors nationwide, financial supporters, volunteers of every kind – thank you. I wish there was a way to add an exponential degree to a thank you; the two little words don’t seem big enough.

Dreary Day, Delightful Deliveries

The sort room roof has been patched again, but based on the age of the roof it’s bound to leak again so the tarps will remain in place until we find a new space. It’s dark, dreary and raining, but our books are safe.Thank you, Lindy at Clarke Central High School and Shawn at Clarke Middle School, for the option to store books at your schools. I wish it weren’t necessary!A couple of boxes o’ books turn a dreary day bright, every time. Today I was thrilled to receive books from Carrie in New Ulm, MN and Katherine (again!) in Kerrville, TX. Thank you!Yes, things have been a bit rough lately. But as I told my long-time friend Polly today: it’s just an awkward stage of growth that’s a blessing in disguise. We have more books, more ideas, more opportunities than we have people or money to follow up on them. I’ll take that over the opposite problem any day.I’d say Books for Keeps is like a pre-teen with braces right now: looking a little scrappy and learning from our mistakes, but on our way to a very, very bright future.

By |January 18th, 2011|2011 Book Distributions|Comments Off on Dreary Day, Delightful Deliveries|

How many books are enough?

It’s not a rhetorical question. I’m really trying to figure it out. How many books are enough?This summer, I thought 2,000 books would suffice. Yet here we are at 7,000+ books and I’m more frustrated than if we had NO books.For better or worse, something happened to me over the last couple of months: I started to think big. My, what a double-edged sword it’s been.Some numbers: There are about 6,000 kids in Athens’ public elementary schools. I have no way of knowing which kids are low-income and which are not. And I’m not sure it matters. The poverty rate is incredibly high here, but income is not the sole factor at play in whether or not a child has books at home. So Books for Keeps is targeting 6,000 kids. We don’t have any other way to ensure we reach every child.7,000 books for 6,000 kids… is that enough?Here’s the thing: I’ve mentioned Dr. Allington’s study many, many times. The results were amazing… simply giving books to kids to take home for summer made such a difference. BUT: those kids were given 12 books each. So if my math is correct, we need 72,000 books to make a difference in every child’s future.So I think the answer to my question is 72,000. Yes, 72,000 books will be enough.What will it take to collect & distribute 72,000 books? The truth is I’m stretched so thin I’m almost transparent. I don’t know how I can even start to tackle this new goal. It’s too much. But if that’s all it takes to make a difference in these specific [...]

By |November 30th, 2010|2011 Book Distributions, How You Can Help|Comments Off on How many books are enough?|

Storage Room Update

Never, ever have I been so excited about something as simple as a set of bookshelves.Sorting screeched to a halt when I realized I was quickly running out of space in the storage room. There was a 25-foot set of cubbyholes preventing me from using one entire wall. Boxes were stacked 5 high on the other side and I didn’t feel comfortable stacking them any higher.Bayne hastily started the buy vs. build investigation, but the decision was made when Trey called to say that Niolon Lumber was donating the wood. The Niolons have been stepping in to save the day since the very first Books for Keeps distribution, back when we were still called “the Summer Satchel”. Talk about good friends!It was an interesting couple of days because I couldn’t do much to help. Marcus and Brett came by and moved all the existing boxes out of the way. Then Bayne and Trey came in and built the shelves (in about an hour!) Then Chad came by and moved all the boxes back in.Here’s the result:24 feet of shelving, a generous 24 inches deep. To me, it’s a beautiful sight! We have more lumber left over to build shelves on the other side of the room… just as soon as someone strong comes along to move 2 huge desks out of the way. In the meantime, Books for Keeps is now free to resume sorting & boxing books!Thank you Marcus, Brett, Trey, Bayne and Chad for taking our storage capabilities to the next level. And a special thank you to Niolon Lumber for donating – and custom cutting – the wood!

By |November 20th, 2010|2011 Book Distributions, Shout Out|Comments Off on Storage Room Update|

Inventory Update

We’re slowly but surely digging ourselves out from under the wall of books donated in October. Counting is the next-to-last-step in the process, just before boxing & placing in storage, so it takes a while to get around to it.Right now, we have 6,997 books inspected, sorted by reading level, counted, and boxed for storage. In addition to that, we have sorted out about 2,000 “barter books”: these are adult books or kids books we can’t distribute, but will trade or sell some other way to get more kids’ books. I’m not done yet! There are about 1,000 books that were in such bad shape they can’t be used or sold. Books with mildew in the pages, ripped covers, missing pages, falling apart. So if you’re keeping count, we’ve processed about 10,000 books so far. AND…… I can easily say there are 3,000 (maybe even 4,000) more books that haven’t been touched yet. Fingers crossed that they’re usable kids’ books; if not, we’ll figure something out!No wonder my back is aching. Keep the books coming. We especially need “chapter books” for grades 2-5. Thousands of them. Spread the word.

Somebody pinch me.

Did I dream this? I’m pretty sure my good friend Celia called yesterday to tell me her company, IntelliGRACS Group, is funding Books for Keeps 501(c)(3) application.I’m hoping when you read this, you won’t burst into tears like I did. It costs a LOT of money to form a 501(c)(3). I’ve been agonizing for 2 months over what to do. Start fundraising? Get a job (a paying job, that is)?I spoke to a CPA yesterday for advice about how to account for all the book donations, and she said “Get your 501(c)(3) started… NOW.” 5 hours later, Celia calls.I shouldn’t be surprised; Celia has a heart the size of War & Peace, and at every stage in Books for Keeps’ short life, people have stepped in at the very moment I needed them most. I don’t know how to explain what it feels like to be so completely at the mercy of others, all the time. I hate it for the lack of control. I love it for the lessons it’s taught me; gratitude is a pretty cool feeling, too. So, Books for Keeps supporters – will you help me say “THANK YOU”??Post a comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or on the IntelliGRACS Facebook page. And take a minute to figure out if you might need IntelliGRACS Group’s services. They find holes in the safest of security systems/processes; better them than a hacker, right?The world is a lot different when you view it from Cloud 9. I’m staying here for a little while.