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Join us in welcoming Rachel Watkins to BFK!

 

Big news today out of Books for Keeps!

The Books for Keeps Board of Directors and Executive Director Leslie Hale are thrilled to announce the hiring of Athens resident and lifelong literacy advocate Rachel Watkins.

Rachel will take on the role of program manager, the second position ever filled here at Books for Keeps. It’s an exciting move by our organization as we launch an expansion to reach 15 additional schools in the next three to five years. Rachel will start work with Books for Keeps in January.

Read more about our plans to grow here.

Rachel was born and raised in Mississippi and came to Athens to earn her master’s degree in adult education in the early 1990’s. She spent ten years in Monterey, California, before moving back home to Athens in 2005. Rachel has four children in the Clarke County School District and has worked part-time at Avid Bookshop since August of 2011. Her husband is a paramedic in West Africa with International S.O.S.

Rachel is well known in Athens as an education advocate, a communicator, a networker, and a cheerleader for our community. She brings to Books for Keeps extensive experience in education, event planning, writing, community outreach, and – of course – literacy.

Read our press release announcing Rachel’s hiring here.

By |November 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Join us in welcoming Rachel Watkins to BFK!|

Books for Keeps is growing

There has been a lot happening at Books for Keeps lately, much of it behind the scenes and under the surface.

There are some things still brewing that we can’t share just yet (but they’re good – so keep watching!)

And then there are things that just beg to be talked about. Such big things that – as we started composing Facebook messages and tweets – we realized this announcement needed a little more room to spread out and breathe.

The short of it is this: Books for Keeps is growing. We are growing our service population – serving more students with more books. And we are growing our organizational capacity – hiring another employee to help us get there.

Our board of directors has been working on a strategic plan that lays out ambitious projections for growth: 15 new schools within the next five years. By the end of that five-year period, we plan to be in every public elementary school in Athens, five new schools in Atlanta, and three new schools in rural counties. The details of that strategic plan are still being crafted, but these are the broad (and exciting!) strokes.

To meet this five-year goal, Books for Keeps needs the boots on the ground to get it done. So, that’s the next part of this announcement: we are seeking the organization’s second-ever employee. This person will be responsible for managing the Stop Summer Slide! program – helping grow it into more schools, attracting new publishers and vendors as partners, and improving our volunteer program. (UPDATE: Read about our program manager here.)

In 2013, Books for Keeps was an all-volunteer organization serving just five schools in Athens. In the past three years, we doubled our program reach and hired an employee – a [...]

By |September 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Books for Keeps is growing|

Throwin’ back to the very beginning

What better way to Throwback Thursday than to start where it all began? One person, one thought, one opportunity to make a change.

This was all only an idea in 2009, when our founder, Melaney Smith, decided to take a leap of faith and tackle an issue that had been nagging at her heart. When Melaney saw one child’s simple desire for an education, there was no turning back. Read on, and click the links in this post to learn more about the step-by-step process that gave birth to Books for Keeps.

With no books at home, and no access to a public library, many children lose the opportunity to learn and build on their reading skills during summer. What’s more, Melaney realized many of those children would actually lose reading skills entirely. Seeing this, Melaney took action that lead to a vast change in the lives of children across the community.

The idea of Books For Keeps came to Melaney six years ago when her niece, MK, first joined a local mentor program. MK noticed that the children she was mentoring could not afford the materials required to make the most of their education. It all started when MK overheard a little girl say, “I wish I had a book at my house.”

Some would have chosen to observe the situation and say, “someone should do something about this.” Well, Melaney decided to be that person. She took the situation into her own hands and said, “I am somebody. I can do something.” As Melaney began to build on this thought in her personal blog posts, she sought advice and ideas. These ideas led to the creation of an organization that has provided 185,000 books to children [...]

By |August 27th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Throwin’ back to the very beginning|

Melaney is setting a BIG goal again…

The following is a guest post from Books for Keeps founder and board member Melaney Smith. When she started giving books to Athens children in 2009, she had no idea the program would blossom into a full-fledged nonprofit. She set goals for herself – and the goals kept getting bigger. Now, she’s setting her biggest goal of all to mark her 50th birthday. In Melaney’s words:

Six years ago, I appealed for help when I met a little girl who loved to read, but was facing a summer without books. Not a single book in her home, and no access to the public library. Her teacher told me that many of her classmates were in the same boat, and would fall behind in school as a result.

I asked for help, and a miracle occurred. Family, friends, book lovers, and regular folks all over the U.S. responded, and the result was Books for Keeps, a research-based program that gives away 45,000 books each year to prevent summer slide. This video tells the story better than I ever could.

I started out with a blog to reach people and ask for help. I’m hoping this method still holds its magic. Because here it goes: another request for help, six years later.

I’m trying to raise $50,000 by my 50th birthday, to reach more children. I’ve got til the end of November, but hey, I’ll be 50 for a whole year so let’s see how it goes. My late start is due mostly to fear of failure, but I’m taking the leap.

Like last time, my first step is to ask for help. I hope you will. Here are some ideas:

Make a donation. If just 200 people were willing to contribute $250 each, I [...]

By |August 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Melaney is setting a BIG goal again…|

Buy Preview Night tickets

BFK Book Sale Preview Night
Get first crack at our amazing selection of used books – thousands of titles priced from 50 cents to $3.

Tickets – for Preview Night only – are $10. All preview night patrons will be entered into a door prize basket that includes autographed copies of books by local authors and a hand-made quilt (for snuggling up with a good book!) Can’t attend but still want to make a donation? Your name will be entered into a drawing for the door prize anyway.

 

By |July 24th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Buy Preview Night tickets|

Distribution time is here – sign up to volunteer!

It’s that time of year when our hearts swell. It’s like Christmas, and we get to feel like Santa Claus, giving more than 45,000 books away to children all over Athens, Atlanta, and Warrenton.

Join us as we help children select and count their books and record their feedback on our book selection. This is the ultimate volunteer experience! Share in the joy of a books for keeps distribution by signing up to volunteer with us.

No special skills are required; training is provided in the first 10 minutes of each shift – so the most important requirement is to show up on time! Sign up for a shift at handsonnortheastgeorgia.org.

If you are part of a group that would like to adopt an entire shift, please email Leslie Hale to sign them up: leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org.
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OGLETHORPE AVENUE ELEMENTARY
Monday, April 27 – 7:55-11:30 a.m. and 12-1:45 p.m. (p.m. SHIFT FULL)
Tuesday, April 28 – 8:05-10:45 a.m. (a.m. SHIFT FULL) and 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. (p.m. SHIFT FULL)

DOWNTOWN ACADEMY
Monday, April 29 – 9-10:45 a.m.

FREEMAN ELEMENTARY – WARRENTON, GA
Thursday, April 30 – 7:55-11 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

STROUD ELEMENTARY
Friday, May 1 – 7:45-11:20 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-2:50 p.m.

DUNBAR ELEMENTARY – ATLANTA
Monday, May 4 – 7:55-11:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.-2:40 p.m.

ALPS ROAD ELEMENTARY
Tuesday, May 5 – 7:45-11:05 a.m. (a.m. SHIFT FULL) and 12-2:50 p.m. (p.m. SHIFT FULL)

GAINES ELEMENTARY
Wednesday, May 6 – 7:55-11:30 a.m. and 12:05-1:50 p.m. (p.m. SHIFT FULL)
Thursday, May 7 – 8-11:35 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.-2:10 p.m.

FOWLER DRIVE ELEMENTARY
Monday, May 11 – 7:55-11:05 a.m. and 11:20 a.m.-2:15 p.m.
Tuesday, May 12 – 10:35 a.m.-2 p.m.

WINTERVILLE ELEMENTARY
Wednesday, May 13 – 7:55-11:20 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.-2:40 p.m.

J.J. HARRIS ELEMENTARY
Thursday, May 14 – 7:45-11:10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
Friday, May 15 [...]

By |April 7th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Distribution time is here – sign up to volunteer!|

A BFK family’s story

When Trion Brown’s daughter, Z’mia, came bounding home with a tote bag full of books one day after school last spring, she was excited for her daughter, a kindergartener. But, she was also a little apprehensive.

“When I started seeing the princess books, I thought, ‘Oh, Lord, how am I going to afford all of these books?” Trion recalls. “We’re going to have to return these books and it’s going to break her heart.”

Then, Trion read the letter from tucked in with the books. It explained that the books were Z’mia’s to keep – from Books for Keeps. That they would help Z’mia’s brain expand and grow stronger during the summer. And, that every child in Z’mia’s school – all 400 students at Dunbar Elementary in Atlanta – got to pick out 12 books each and take them home, just like Z’mia, thanks to the efforts of Books for Keeps.

“She told me that she had picked them out herself,” Trion says. “She read the titles out to me. I knew that she could read, but I was amazed at how well she could read.”

That night, Trion and Z’mia read together all evening. They read until it was almost time to get up again, Trion jokes.

And then summer came, and Z’mia kept reading.

“This summer, she picked up books more than anything – more than a toy,” she says. “I don’t think her involvement in books would be as much if it weren’t for the books she got in the spring.”

And then fall came. When Z’mia entered the first grade, she received a reading assessment. Z’mia’s teacher was starting the process of putting students into groups according to their reading levels.

“Z’mia blew out all of the reading [...]

By |November 20th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A BFK family’s story|

Class Sponsor Spotlight: Classic City Orthodontics and Athens Lions Club

This is part of a series of blog posts profiling the sponsors that adopt a classroom, a grade level, or an entire school through charitable giving. We couldn’t do what we do without the folks and businesses in the community that step up to ensure that an entire group of children has access to high-quality books all summer long.
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As a returning class sponsor, Classic City Orthodontics holds a special place in the collective heart of Books for Keeps. When our nonprofit was still young and proving itself in the Athens Community, Dr. Tradd Harter and his practice demonstrated that they believed in what Books for Keeps was trying to build.

Dr. Harter’s practice was also one of the first local businesses to host a book drive benefiting Books for Keeps. Classic City Orthodontics now holds a drive every fall. It has become so much a part of their routine that they remind patients to bring books to donate when making appointment confirmation phone calls.

Classic City Orthodontics does an amazing thing by sponsoring a classroom, ensuring every child in that class will go home with 12 books and a tote bag to carry them. But, the book drives hosted by Classic City Orthodontics are perhaps just as astounding. In the fall of 2013, at both their Athens and Watkinsville locations, Dr. Harter’s practice collected 900 children’s books to benefit Books for Keeps!

Thank you Dr. Harter and staff for your dedication to Books for Keeps!
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The Athens Lions Club is a first-time class sponsor this year, and we are so very happy to have them on board!

As with so many of our wonderful sponsors, the Lions Club’s commitment to Books for Keeps started with [...]

By |August 21st, 2014|Sponsor Spotlight, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Class Sponsor Spotlight: Classic City Orthodontics and Athens Lions Club|

The Inaugural Books for Keeps Yard Sale!

Get ready clean out your garage or storage closet because the inaugural Books for Keeps Yard Sale is just around the corner! You can get rid of unwanted items, make a profit, and support Books for Keeps all at the same time!

On October 25, 2014, Books for Keeps is inviting you to participate in this unique first-time fundraiser. We are hoping you will host a yard sale and donate a percentage of the profits to support summer reading by students from low-income families. The best thing about it is that it’s not limited to folks in Athens, Atlanta or even Georgia- you can host a yard sale anywhere!

Here is how it works in three easy steps:

First, let everyone know about your yard sale.  It can be as simple as spreading the word about your yard sale with signs, emails, text messages and flyers to your family, co-workers and neighbors. Sign up to host your yard sale benefit and we’ll provide you with flyers, signs and email language to help you promote your yard sale.

Ready to sign up already? Email Kim Klonowski to get on our list early!

Second, SELL! Deliver a solid sales pitch and remind customers that you are doing good deed by donating a percentage of your proceeds to Books for Keeps.

Finally, divvy up the profits. You will keep a majority of your yard sale income, and we will ask that you donate a small percentage of the profits to Books for Keeps.

You can either donate the amount on our website or mail a check to Books for Keeps, P.O. Box 49761, Athens, GA  30604.

Although October 25 may seem far from now, it is never too early to begin planning and spreading the word via email to your neighborhood [...]

By |June 23rd, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Inaugural Books for Keeps Yard Sale!|

Newly updated book wish list!

Thanks to our wonderful volunteers during book distributions this past April and May, we have a newly updated book wish list for our elementary students! Please visit our wish list page for the complete list of book titles covering elementary through high school.

After compiling results of exit surveys from each of the 10 elementary schools we serve, we found the following books to be the most requested for next year.  As you can imagine with 3,700 students, the number of requests was large! This information could not have been compiled without a large number of volunteers assisting at distributions and recording each student’s comments.

Graphic novels such as Amulet and BONE are increasingly popular and the latest edition to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is always a favorite among our students.

New to our wish list this year is Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, Scooby Doo, Pokémon, the Pete the Cat series and the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. At book distributions, there were plenty of students asking for those books and the available copies always left the book tables – quickly. However, Minecraft, Hello Kitty, 39 Clues, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Shake It Up are the most surprising additions to our wish list. We plan to have more of those books for next year’s distribution!

We are always looking for gently used or new copies of the books on our wish list. If you do not have any of these books, you can make a monetary donation to help us buy books – we are able to get great discounts through publishers, nonprofits, and other clearinghouses.

And remember – we will take donated books of all kinds! Any book that is not [...]

By |June 3rd, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Newly updated book wish list!|