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2019 Distributions are coming soon!

Mark your calendars now, because 2019 Book Distributions are coming soon! Are you ready to be a part of something truly special? Are you ready to help us share the power of reading with thousands of students?! 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 16-18, 2019: Elbert County Elementary School- Elberton, GA

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

April 22-23, 2019: Fowler Drive Elementary School- Athens, GA

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

April 30 & May 1, 2019: Winterville 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 7-8, 2019: J.J. Harris Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 8, 2019: Freeman Elementary School- Warrenton, GA

May 9-10, 2019: Stroud Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 10 & 13, 2019: Barrow Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 13-14, 2019: Alps Road Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 15-16, 2019: Whit Davis Elementary School- Athens, GA

We look forward to seeing you at distributions!

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 Pardon 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 [...]

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!|

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.   
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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!|