It all started with an idea to celebrate my mom’s birthday in 2014. My mom has a passion for teaching and has served as a reading teacher for Title I schools for the past 20 years in Greensboro, NC, including Vandalia Elementary. I knew the gift that would mean the most to her would be a gift for her students.
With that in mind, our company spread the word to our clients and friends that we planned to collect gently used children’s books for a Title I school in Greensboro. We got an immediate response from the community and were thrilled when we counted over 6,000 books that had been donated to our cause. We had so many books donated that we were able to include Sedgefield Elementary in Charlotte, as well.
We called the event “Read a Book, Give a Book” and the surprise celebration at Vandalia was perfect. My mom was blown away when she walked into the gymnasium and saw the entire school ready to celebrate along with her. Each student was able to take home 6 books to read over the summer.
Not only were we able to help Vandalia and Sedgefield students, we also discovered that there were many homes in Charlotte that had an abundance of children’s books and many other homes that had very few. So, this idea for my mom’s birthday celebration quickly turned into an annual tradition of giving.
During summer vacation many students lose valuable literary skills because they do not have books to read at home. This can be a huge set back in a child’s development and we are very proud to be able to provide books for these students. Children without access to reading at home are highly susceptible to falling behind to the point where they can be 2 ½ years behind other students by the time they reach 5th grade. Having books at home is a huge step toward eliminating that disparity.
This is now our 5th year collecting books, and thanks to the generosity and support of our clients and the Charlotte community, we have donated over 30,000 children’s books to Title 1 schools. This year, Kathy Izard, an author, speaker, and advocate agreed to speak to the students at Charlotte’s Windsor Park School during our annual book drive celebration. She believed in our mission and decided to donate a copy of her new children’s book, A Goodnight for Mr. Coleman, to every single student in the entire school, which is over 800 students.
So on Friday, May 17th, Kathy read her book aloud to every student and teacher gathered in the school’s gymnasium. All eyes and ears were tuned in. It was a memorable moment and soon after she spoke to the students they had the opportunity to “shop” for additional books to take home for the summer.
A huge thank you to Junkluggers, who donate their time and effort each year, loading thousands of books from my home onto their truck and delivering them to the school. This book drive would not be possible without their generosity and kindness. I would also like to thank My Gym for providing an “all school movement experience. ” Thank you to each and every person who donated books and those volunteers who sorted and organized the books by grade level and helped set up for the celebration.
Everyone coming together makes this a powerful experience. This event is truly an example of the strength of our community. And when we see the young faces light up each time they receive a book of their own we are inspired to begin again.