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.

Book distributionWith 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.”

Book DistributionSome 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 since 2009. Never in her wildest dreams did Melaney think that her idea would turn into such an amazing reality.

Although the size of Books for Keeps has increased dramatically since the first $10 donation from a concerned mother, some things haven’t changed much over the past few years. For example, take a look at our book wish list. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is still our most requested book, and despite the passage of time, children are still requesting books ranging from ‘My Sister the Vampire’, to ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Scooby Doo,’ just as they are still fighting over who has first call on the see-saw at recess. Sometimes you just stick with what you know.

PSA_2799Here at Books for Keeps we are sticking with what we know – and what we have seen work over the past 6 years. From the very first Books for Keeps blog posts in May of 2009, to our latest and greatest book sales and donations, we have seen some of what we are capable of. We know that we can make a difference, just like we know how important these books are to each child’s success, happiness, and education.

As Books for Keeps continues to grow, so do Melaney’s hopes for the future, and for the impact that we can make. Books for Keeps is laying the ground-work to reach more children – and that’s where you, and your fellow community members, come in.

Can we help Melaney work another miracle? Instead of a birthday present this year, Melaney hopes to raise $50,000 by her 50th birthday in order to provide Books for Keeps with more books, to more children, in more places.

Let’s help her reach that goal. Make a donation. Lend a hand. Make a difference in a child’s life.