What would you do if you became destitute and your washer and dryer broke? Let's say you lacked the means to buy new units. Imagine loading your family's dirty clothes into a borrowed car or Uber (if you're lucky you'd have your own transportation) and taking the bags and baskets to a nearby laundromat. Oh, and you have to take your kids because nobody can watch them. What could your kids possible do to while away the time while you spend time doing the laundry?
Families that do this all the time, in general, are unable to purchase or find books for their children. For the past couple years, Sparkle Clean Laundromat in Clementon has distributed thousands of BookSmiles books to their customers' children. I started supplying them because I was motivated by the Laundromat Library League. This organization distributes books to dozens of laundromats in the Delaware Valley. And recently BookSmiles had the chance to present the LLL with 1,000 books, picked up by volunteer Karen Hamilton! She is the BookSmiles Book Bank's first pickup. Hundreds of kids waiting in laundromats will be able to READ and KEEP their favorite books.
This article from The New York Times documents the emerging books-in-laudromats/barbershops movement!
We had another first as well. Gina Foody, a teacher at Kingsway Middle School, brought her daughter Katie over to the book bank at 1879 Old Cuthbert, Cherry Hill to sort for a few hours. Gina is a force of nature. For two straight years, she inspired her students to do drives that yielded nearly 10,000 books! Yes, we teachers can do major things for literacy outside of the classroom!
I'm THRILLED to announce we have moved out of my garage and into the BookSmiles Book Bank at 1879 Old Cuthbert Road in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Angelique Girard, a rising senior at Kingsway Regional High School brought the Book Bank's first donation and my son helped me hump 103 large cases of books.
I just read that 40 percent of the food we produce in the U.S. never gets eaten. Sadly, the majority of the 38 million tons of food waste goes into landfills. And tens of millions of Americans regularly suffer from hunger!
I suspect the same thing happens to perfectly good children's books. Families don't know what to do with them, or forget about them, when their kids outgrow them. They sit on shelves or in plastic tubs for decades and grow yellow, and then get thrown away or recycled. Yet millions of kids in America have no books to call their own.
BookSmiles, aided by Cub Scout Pack 120- Lindenwold New Jersey, is doing something about this. Check out the beautiful collection bin they painted along with their book donation.
Explore our website to learn how you can help save books from landfills and "feed" them to boys and girls who have few, to none, at home.
Last Friday, dozens of teachers working with BookSmiles distributed 12,000 books to 5,050 students in 13 schools reaching 5 districts. We teachers have mighty power when we band together to promote literacy outside of our schools, enabling our students to build robust home libraries.
The ball started to roll when Gina StMaur Foody initiated a book drive at Kingsway Regional middle school, yielding over 4,000 books. Renee Seabrook Hart, a teacher in Glassboro, arranged to have the books transported to her district, and from there she distributed to Clayton. Students in Vineland gathered thousands of books and BookSmiles, with the help of Jane Kreisworth Arochas, provided the rest!
Here are the receiving schools:
Glassboro High School
Thomas E. Bowe Elementary -Glassboro.
Rogers Elementary - Glassboro
Lindenwold School #4
Wallace Middle School - Vineland
Sabater Elementary - Vineland
Mennies Elementary - Vineland
Little Lambs PreSchool - Vineland
Mastery Molina - Camden
Cooper's Poynt Elementary - Camden
Katz Dalsey Academy Camden
A few months ago, teacher Gina StMaur Foody told me that she was going to have her students at Kingsway Regional middle school do a huge book drive for the second year in a row.
Renee Seabrook Hart, a teacher in Glassboro NJ, arranged with Principal Craig Stephenson to have over 3,000 books transported from Kingsway to her school where they will be distributed to prevent the summer slide at a BookSmiles June 7th book fair. Mary Aruffo (Glassboro Gtalp) works with Renee on the Glassboro end, along with other great teachers.
The books, of course, will be free, and kids will take books home to babies in the family as well as younger siblings.
Children should not feel badly if they don't have the funds to buy books at a school book fair. This is a reason why BookSmiles exists!
When five kids from Lindenwold's Elementary School #4 collaborated on a letter, asking me for a Little Free Library, I JUMPED at the chance to make it happen. I called up a bunch of my friends who helped me plan and create the box.
Nancy Bragg painted the box and invited The Courier Post to cover the ribbon-cutting. Lindenwold High School Students helped transport and set up for a book fair featuring 1,200 free books. How great that the story got picked up by AP News and US News and World Report!
So excited to have Camden County College partnering with BookSmiles to be a permanent collection station. I want to give a big thanks to President Donald Borden, a voracious reader, for being so supportive.
The College has an education program for future teachers. We look forward to supporting them by providing them with tons of kid's books. We also hope to involve more colleges and universities in the sourcing, sorting, and distribution process.
Drop your donations off at Wolverton Library and Halpern Hall, lower level at the elevators. We need books for infants all the way to 6th graders. Help kids who have few, if any, books build libraries in their homes!
Meagen Cecchetti is a middle school teacher in Lindenwold. Here is what she created in her own words:
"One of best parts of being able to work with BookSmiles is the partnership that it has created with The Goddard School. Because of this partnership and the generosity of the citizens of Medford (and all of Burlington County), we have been able to create an opportunity for students at Lindenwold Middle School to shop for books EVERYDAY! This our newest station where older children can be book distributors for the younger kids in their families. Giving the gift of literacy one book at a time! #booksmiles #unitingcommunities"
BookSmiles now has an international reach! Here I am amid last week's snow flurry with Fred Twum-Acheampong, founder of the African Book Challenge based out of Voorhees. Every year, he contracts a shipping container to transport books, school supplies, computers, and other donations to his hometown in Kwabeng, Ghana.
We committed to supplying 2,000 + books that he will distribute among several schools in Kwabeng in July. Please see the pics of the library he helped open with the help of ABC's supporters. And check out his site. http://africanbookchallenge.org/ .
What's more, Jason Martin, a friend of mine and world traveler, has committed to flying out to Ghana this summer to help Fred distribute the books and other supplies. Drop off school supplies and working computers at Balsamos, his restaurant in Lindenwold!
Thank you so much, students and teachers of Osage Elementary School for pitching in to create a drive that yielded 707 books! And I want to give a big shout out to Lakshmi, Siani, Nivi, and Francesca for spearheading the drive!
Many of the books that you donated are already on a shelf-cart that Mishael and Alberto arranged here at Lindenwold High School. Students will be encouraged to take books home for younger brothers and sisters.
I also had a meeting today with Fred Archeampong who runs a charity called African Book Challenge in conjunction with Ashland Church in Voorhees. BookSmiles pledged to donate 2,000 books that Fred will ship to Ghana. Fred told me that in Ghana it's not uncommon for 50 kids in a classroom to share a few books because that's all they have. Let me know if you're interested in doing another drive this spring. Would you like to send the books to children in Ghana?