Books for Keeps blog

Sponsor spotlight: Synovus Bank and Trust

There are supporters that are important for one particular reason – and then there are supporters whose involvement in an organization runs deep and wide, and seems to touch on nearly every aspect of what is dear to Books for Keeps.

Synovus is one of those above-and-beyond sponsors.

We’re highlighting Synovus here on our blog because of their commitment to sponsor a grade-level of students (that’s 80 children – more than 900 books!) at one of our Athens service schools.

That commitment can’t be emphasized enough. They’re returning to do this for the second year in a row, investing in local students’ futures at a time when so much feels uncertain about next month or even next week.

We have a long-standing relationship with Synovus. They have been our primary bank since Books for Keeps incorporated in 2011 and started raising money to fund its work. We have hosted employees from Synovus on our board and as volunteers in schools. We have benefited from book drives in Synovus branches around Athens. And we’ve attended – and hosted – many meetings in their main branch in downtown Athens.

Synovus has carefully woven itself – and its employees – in the fabric of Athens, particularly in service of Athens nonprofit community. (Don’t believe us – check out these awesome snapshots of some of their recent service activities!)

This commitment of $2,500 – when it joins other fundraising efforts like grants and individual donations – helps us plan confidently for spring of 2021. It helps us know we can keep our promise to the students and families we served this year. It helps us confidently forecast for full service provision to our partner schools.

So much feels up in the air. It’s hard to [...]

By |November 11th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Sponsor spotlight: Synovus Bank and Trust|

Old, new, tried-or-true: we’ve got lots of ways to support BFK this year!

It would be the understatement of the century to say we’ve had an unusual year- all of us.

BFK is no different. It means we’re all hankering for stability and the “normal” rituals. And yet, this year calls for getting creative, trying new things, and providing options for connection.

So, this year as we approach year-end, we’ve got multiple ways to support Books for Keeps. We’re keeping some of the old – including a matching challenge on Giving Tuesday (December 1st) – and adding some new opportunities to get cool swag for yourself or holiday gifts for whoever you’re thankful for this year. Here of some terrific ways to support, all in one place:

Giving Tuesday, December 1st – A global day of giving, and a major fundraising day for Books for Keeps! This day serves as the official kick-off of our year-end fundraising campaign, and you know we love to provide some extra incentive to be extra-generous. On that day, the Books for Keeps board members will match all donations until we reach $10,000 on that day. (That’s our board members from past, present, and even a few of our incoming members who will officially join us in January.) Mark your calendars, bookmark our donation page, and help us have our most successful Giving Tuesday ever!
Lock in your holiday hunker-down activity or surprise a music-lover in your life with one of these REM jigsaw puzzles, featuring the band’s 1990 poster for the American Library Association (ALA). Proceeds from all puzzle sales go straight back to the ALA and to your favorite acronym: BFK! The puzzles are made right here in Athens by local Very Good Puzzle Company, and will arrive in time for Christmas!

By |October 28th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Old, new, tried-or-true: we’ve got lots of ways to support BFK this year!|

63,000 books delivered to students’ homes (and growing!)

Updated July 24, 2020

Books are a torch during times of darkness and human searching.

(Sure, go ahead and call us biased.)

In March of this year, as the skies over our world seemed to turn black, and we all wondered what would happen next – Books for Keeps looked at the 80,000 books in our warehouse as a beacon of hope.

We couldn’t wait for next school year when it would (might?) be safe to give them away through our traditional, school-based program. This impatience, this insistence that our mission is more critical now than ever, is what is behind our still-in-process response to the pandemic: delivering more than 62,000 books directly to students’ homes.

When schools suspended in-person instruction in March we knew we had to act – and quickly – to use those books as a source of hope. In fact, we looked at the books in our warehouse as a very real lifeline that could tether children to their educational futures, to their love of reading, and even to their sense of self.

(As of right now, children in Georgia and elsewhere have been out of school for more than four months – with at least one more to go, and longer delays to return in some counties.)

And so, in March, we embarked on a plan to distribute books to children in the schools we serve using an online ordering process, with fulfillment happening with the help of volunteers in our warehouse and for-profit partners. It felt just crazy enough to work.

And as of late July we’ve hand-delivered some 43,000 books to children – plus worked with a for-profit partner to deliver another 17,000 books via FedEx. And we’re still going, delivering the final orders packed in our warehouse, and [...]

By |July 9th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on 63,000 books delivered to students’ homes (and growing!)|

A dispatch from the BFK warehouse amid our COVID-19 response

“We might just pull this thing off.”

It’s a regular phrase uttered during staff meetings and as we sign off from phone calls with each other, in all sorts of seasons. Books for Keeps has always been a scrappy organization – occasionally punching above our weight class, and ALWAYS looking for new ways to problem-solve in the face of hurdles.

Lately, we find ourselves saying this a lot (sometimes just to the dog or the cat in our home office) as we turn our operation on its head so we can reach students in the most unusual of circumstances. What was once a program that deployed thousands of books and hundreds of volunteers into schools is set to enter students’ homes through their computers or a parent’s smartphone, or even in direct phone calls from a teacher to a parent saying, “I’m calling to help you order your Books for Keeps books.”

In the past seven weeks, Books for Keeps has placed nearly our entire inventory of 80,000+ books onto an e-commerce website for students in Clarke County to shop. Meanwhile, we have partnered with a book wholesale company out of South Carolina, Reading Warehouse, to create an online shopping experience for students we serve in Elbert, Warren, and Fulton counties.

Eight weeks ago, we wondered how on earth we would be able to serve the 9,000 students who expected us in their schools this spring. Seven weeks ago, we hatched a plan – the brain-child of Program Manager Justin Bray – that felt just crazy enough to work. (Justin is the dreamer on our staff, and we’re continually aware of how fortunate we are to have a mix of conceptual minds and analytical thinkers on both our staff [...]

By |May 6th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A dispatch from the BFK warehouse amid our COVID-19 response|

How to be a part of BFK Community Read-Alouds!

Ever thought about being a YouTube star? It couldn’t be easier these days and now’s your chance! Books for Keeps is looking for community members to help record more read-aloud videos to post and share with all our families, friends, and loved ones stuck at home. If you’re wondering whether or not you can do it, you definitely can, and here’s how.

It takes less than 10 minutes of your time to get your 15 minutes of fame! Follow the step-by-step instructions below to join in the fun. Feel free to reach out to if you have any questions, comments, or concerns with your video. We’re here to help!
Check out our YouTube channel with current read-alouds here!



By |March 26th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on How to be a part of BFK Community Read-Alouds!|

Intern with Books for Keeps this Summer and/or Fall!

Books for Keeps is seeking interns to serve this summer. Those interested, and available, in a fall internship are also encouraged to apply.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and individuals with fall availability are preferred but not required. To see what we’re looking for, check out each of the descriptions below. To apply, please send resume and cover letter to the email address of the corresponding intern supervisor.

BFK Grants and Research Intern posting – Summer 2020
BFK Program & Volunteer Management Intern posting – Summer 2020


By |February 27th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Intern with Books for Keeps this Summer and/or Fall!|

Meet board member Chandra Mincey!

(part of a monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

I learned about Books for Keeps when my daughter was in 4th grade and got to participate. Earlier in the year, I met Leslie to learn more about the organization and get some ideas about how to get involved. After speaking with her, I was ready to be a part of it! I thought it was a phenomenal idea that was much needed.

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

4 years as a volunteer, [this is my] 1st year as a board member.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

Anytime we advocate for literacy, we advance the growth of our community exponentially. Reading is the gateway to learning. Learning leads to growth. Being a part of the board gives me the opportunity to do something I am passionate about with some really cool people.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps?

The first time I volunteered for my first book distribution was at H. B. Stroud Elementary. I intended on splitting my shift with co-workers. However, we were all having so much fun , we all ended up staying for an entire shift! It was such an inspiring experience interacting with the kids and watching their excitement over the books…the kids’ excitement made us excited! They thanked us as if we’d done something really grand! It was a great feeling.

Have you worked with other non-profits in the past? Which ones?

I am an active youth and children’s volunteer with my church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, West. I also volunteer with the Rites of Passage [...]

By |February 13th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet board member Chandra Mincey!|

Books for Keeps is hiring for Spring Distributions 2020!

Books for Keeps is looking to hire up to two additional part-time seasonal staff members to help administer our Stop Summer Slide program this Spring. 2020 marks the first year we’ll be in every Clarke County Elementary School and we’ll need all the help we can get to make this year the best ever for the students in our community, and beyond.

The part-time, spring program coordinator position was created to provide vital support to Books for Keeps staff during spring book distributions. The Books for Keeps spring program coordinators will report to the program manager. This is a temporary position beginning after March 30 and ending by June 5. The Books for Keeps spring program coordinators will be paid $15.00 per hour on a contract basis.

This position relies heavily on the ability to interact positively with students, teachers, and volunteers. It is also dependent on the candidate’s ability to lift boxes – typically between 15 and 35 pounds apiece – repeatedly over a 4-5 hour period. The work is hard, but the rewards of helping students fall in love with reading abound!

The schedule for this position will fluctuate based on the needs of the program. Candidates must have availability between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. at least two days per week from March 30 through June 5. Some days will be shift-based, with hours from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., or from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours will be scheduled two to six weeks in advance, but may change based on shifting needs and availability of other staff. See below for an approximate schedule.


March 25th: 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.: Spring Key Volunteer Training
March 30 – April 10: 5 [...]

By |February 3rd, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Books for Keeps is hiring for Spring Distributions 2020!|

Meet new board member, Deirdre Sugiuchi!

by BFK board member Deirdre Sugiuchi
(part of a monthly series)

When I first heard of Books for Keeps, I was a school library media specialist at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School. Melaney Cook-Smith had just piloted the organization at Alps Road Elementary. I knew that my students loved books and loved reading books but often did not have reading materials at home. I knew that the reason I was a strong reader was because I grew up in a home with lots of books. I wanted my students at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary to have the same opportunities.

It took a few years before there was funding for Oglethorpe to be a part of Books for Keeps, but once OAES was involved, the day they visited was hands down the favorite day of the year. My students loved being able to choose their own books, put them in their own book bag, and take them home to keep and read over and over. As soon as we got back to school in the fall, they would ask me when Books for Keeps was coming, even though they knew Books for Keeps wouldn’t visit until May. They were that excited about having their own books to read.

Recently I left education to focus on writing, but I was a school library media specialist for over a decade. I’ve always been passionate about getting kids excited about reading. Once I left teaching I knew I still wanted to be involved in promoting reading in Athens-Clarke County and Georgia at large. Joining the Books for Keeps board seemed like the best and most effective way I could make a difference.

I believe in Books for Keeps because I have seen the difference it makes. [...]

By |January 10th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Meet new board member, Deirdre Sugiuchi!|

2020 distribution dates are officially set!

2020 Book Distribution dates are set*!  Thanks to your generosity this giving season, we’ll be giving away 108,000 books this spring to children at 20 schools Athens, Atlanta, Warrenton, and Elberton. Mark your calendars now to make sure you don’t miss this chance to experience the magic of helping students in your community pick out their 12 free books for summer – for keeps!

As always, we will be taking group reservations of groups of 8 to 15 people that would like to adopt and work an entire shift at a particular school. Fore more information about this option, email us now to start coordinating with our Program Manager, Justin Bray.

Stay tuned to our social media in the new year for an announcement when sign ups are ready!

*While these are the dates we’ve set in partnership with schools, note that dates can always change due to scheduling needs by the school. That being said, if there’s a school you REALLY want to volunteer at, be sure to mark your calendar now!

April 7, 2020: Downtown Academy- Athens, GA

April 13-15, 2020: Elbert County Elementary School- Elberton, GA

April 15-16, 2020: J.J. Harris Elementary School- Athens, GA

April 16-17, 2020: Timothy Road Elementary School- Athens, GA

April 17, 2020: Benteen Elementary School- Atlanta, GA

April 20-21, 2020: Elbert County Primary School- Elberton, GA

April 22-23, 2020: Dunbar Elementary School- Atlanta, GA

April 28-29, 2020: Fowler Drive Elementary School- Athens, GA

April 30 – May 1, 2020: Winterville Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 1 & 4, 2020: Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 4-5, 2020: Gaines Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 5-7, 2020: Whitehead Road Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 7-8, 2020: Stroud Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 8, 2020: Freeman Elementary School- Warrenton, GA

May 12-13, 2020: Barnett Shoals Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 13-14, 2020: Chase Street Elementary School- Athens, GA

May 14, 2020: Cleveland Road Elementary School- [...]

By |December 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on 2020 distribution dates are officially set!|