Linda Schroeder is an integral part of the Oconee Area Resource Council, a 501 (C) (3) non-profit providing food for families in need year-round, in addition to offering mentoring services to K-12 students throughout Oconee County. In Linda’s words, “We are one full time and two half time staffers. We have a good number of volunteers and a supportive board, and that’s how we are able to get a lot done.”
Linda’s serendipitous email last week couldn’t have been more timely, as the process of organizing this summer’s books had just begun. She offered to donate a large collection of used children’s books already sorted by by age, which will save a significant amount of energy when it’s time to load up the Bibliobike in a few weeks. It took two trips to transport the collection, which now occupies a considerable amount of space at the house.
Many thanks to Linda for reaching out, and to everyone working to help folks in need. When we commit to the well-being of others, it’s curious how quickly compassion spreads.
The last load from school includes two panniers worth of nonfiction under a case my students call The Transformer, because it unfolds into a picnic table and chairs when we enjoy lunch outside. It also happens to be the same one Luis Soriano brings with his Biblioburro while delivering books to rural villages in La Gloria, Columbia. The teacher who donated the books has a jar of homemade kimchi waiting for her in the workroom fridge.
When Leslie Hale reached out shortly after the video was posted, she noted that Books for Keeps and Bibliobike share similar goals of countering summer slide and providing literature to children who otherwise would have limited access. As the executive director of Books for Keeps since 2013, Leslie has extensive experience promoting literacy. She invited me to the warehouse to discuss a potential partnership.
Between now and the end of the school year, Books for Keeps will deliver 60,000 books to elementary schools in Clarke County. Sans shiny display cases, the annual event is somewhat similar to a book fair. The major differences are that every book is free and every child goes home that day with twelve self-selected books.
When asked how the nonprofit decides which schools to serve, Leslie said it’s based on free and reduced lunch percentages, but they are “in the process of trying to reach every school.”
Books for Keeps purchases new books at a significantly discounted rate from Scholastic and First Book, a nonprofit founded in 1992 to provide literature and learning materials to those in need. For used books, there are many drop-off points around town, including Allstate branches, churches and other local businesses. Click here for a complete list of locations and more information about Books for Keeps.
Books for Keeps’ employees and volunteers will take a much needed break following spring deliveries to schools. After that, Leslie offered to contribute books to the Bibliobike. A section of the cart will be reserved for books to be given away at each stop throughout the summer (like a Little Free Library on wheels). Thanks again to Leslie and everyone else who supports literacy!
Once the video was uploaded and shared, total donations went from zero to over six thousand dollars within twenty four hours. Thank you to everyone for the incredible outpouring of support!