Where We Went:
The Children’s Book Bank (CBB) accepts contributions of new and gently used books, then distributes them to children living in poverty. Volunteers make sure each title looks as new as possible before it gets packed in a book-bag for each student in a Head Start Preschool or a Title 1 elementary school. CBB hopes to fight illiteracy by providing each low-income child in our community with a small library to call his or her own.
My daughters and I loved volunteering at the Children’s Book Bank (CBB) during week 6 of my 2012 experiment. I knew the 4th grade Girl Scout troop I co-lead would enjoy it just as much. Not only were the girls excited to help prepare books for kids who don’t own any themselves, they wanted to sponsor a book drive collecting donations for CBB at their elementary school.
For the school book drive, the Girl Scouts spent one evening making signs to hang around the school and sewing book bags to give to CBB.
The book drive proved successful. Lots of paperbacks, some picture books, and a few baby board-books will soon be in the homes of Head Start and Title 1 students.
We met Sandy, our coordinator, when our troop arrived to work at CBB. Sandy volunteers specifically with Scout troops and small school groups. The first time I helped at CBB, we were given a brief orientation of the organization and then got right to work. Sandy’s presentation was a bit different.
Sandy explained to the girls about why CBB exists and shared that each middle class household in our area owns an average of 15 children’s books while low-income neighborhoods show a ratio of 1 book per 300 kids. Those numbers are almost unreal to the girls, so Sandy held up this illustration:
|Each green sticker represents 20 books.
The middle class neighborhood has their sheet covered.
The low-income neighborhood has one small checkmark, representing 1 book.
She gave us a brief tour of the small donated space, informing how books are sorted before they are given away. Then the girls got a history lesson. Sandy went into detail about the origin of books, why books are important, and even let the girls page through various story books from around the world. Who knew the afternoon could be so educational?
Ready to work, Sandy instructed the adults to pass out cleaning supplies to the troop. Our anxious girls grabbed the rags for wiping and the erasers for erasing and began sprucing up the donated items. Each Scout was diligent making sure each book got as close to perfection as possible before placing it in the “ready” bin.
The girls groaned when it was time to go. We could have easily cleaned for an hour longer than our allotted time. Sandy told the girls if they’d like to come back, parents can register on the Hands On Portland website and find an available date on the volunteer project calendar. I know I’ll be back with my own kids, and I bet we’ll be offering to take some friends as well.
How To Help:
As an individual or family, sign up for two hours of volunteer time on the Hands On Portland website. If you are interested in bringing a small group, contact CBB directly to coordinate specific schedules.
All books distributed by CBB are donated by others. To hold a book drive of your own, follow the directions in the “Book Drive Basics” section of the website. It takes little effort, but helps teach kids what it means to have the “nature of a servant.”