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 am able.
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Serving on the BFK Board has been a fulfilling experience. I have learned more about the organization and the many different ways we reach out to children and families and support literacy initiatives. Not only did BFK distribute books in 18 elementary schools in 2018, but we hosted information tables at various community events where we talked with children and families about the importance of reading and we gave away books. We had a successful used book sale which not only raised money for BFK to purchase books, but also placed low cost, high quality books in the hands of many children AND adults. Additionally, at the conclusion of the sale the Teacher Free for All gave books for free to teachers in various school districts for use in their classrooms.  And many non profits selected books at no cost to use in their programs. Books were also selected to be placed in Little Free Libraries around town. It is a win-win for everyone!
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I retired in 2009 from Athens Regional Medical Center (now Piedmont Athens Regional) after 23 years. My undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education from Auburn University and I have a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Alabama. I taught second grade for two years right out of college and I was an “almost” full time volunteer in the Clarke County public schools when our daughter was growing up. After retiring, I have enjoyed volunteering again in our community and especially enjoyed the 5 years I volunteered on a weekly basis in the Media Center at Barrow Elementary School. There are so many great things going on in our schools, and it has been most rewarding to see the many dedicated teachers working tirelessly with children. I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to be a part of Books for Keeps and to support students and teachers in their literacy efforts. Together we are making a difference in the lives of young people in our community! And, I am thrilled to be a part of the BFK program and helping to make that difference! Won’t you consider joining us????