The free/reduced lunch statistics have been released (finally) and we know which schools we’ll be serving this May: joining Alps, Fowler, and Stroud will be Gaines and JJ Harris! Both are large schools, and will more than double the number of students we reach. AND the number of books we’ll need.

27,000, to be exact.

Last February, March and April were nail-biters around here. We were only 60% of the way towards our goal, and needed 6,000 books in 12 weeks. I thought it was impossible… 6,000 books was 4x more than we’d distributed the year before! But we did it.

Can we do it again?

We need 13,000 MORE books for kids in kindergarten – 5th grade… in just 12 short weeks. 13,000 usable books… meaning they’re current, popular, and in very good condition. After all, if we want children to read during summer with no adult encouragement, we have to provide fun, appealing books they want to read. But that’s more books than we distributed last May! Can we do it?

I’m nervous every year, but I’m not sure I can take it this time. 13,000 books in 12 weeks?

Books for Keeps needs your help, right now. We started with one person saying “I can do something about this” and grew as many more decided they could, too. Can you? Here are some ways you can help, to get you thinking.

(New to Books for Keeps and not sure why we’re doing this? Here’s our story.)

Books for Keeps from Mt. Bethel UMC on Vimeo.

The US Postal Service’s “Media Mail” rate makes it very affordable to mail paperback books. Send us the books your child has outgrown. Hold a book drive in your neighborhood or office (all it takes is an email or a Facebook post). Shop thrift stores, purchase books from our wish list, or donate funds to help us take advantage of deep-discount purchase opportunities.

I’m worried… maybe more than last year. But it’s worth the effort. Athens was “upgraded” to #1 in poverty by the 2010 Census, and summer slide preys relentlessly on children from low-income families. Please help us stop it… now.