I agonized over how to write this post because I want to convey how excited I am, how full of hope, how humbled, how... overwhelmed. I don't think I can do it. So I'm just going to spit it out in plain old, unemotional words.
Yesterday I met with a group of folks from Whatever It Takes, a new organization here in Athens. I'm definitely going to fill you in on what they're doing, but right now let's focus on what it means for Books for Keeps.
I've been working, working, working to have a large-scale book drive in Athens sometime this fall. But I've had so much trouble finding drop off locations for the books. I have no reputation preceding me, no clout. I have no talent or method for creating signs for my bins. I have no media contacts to spread the word. I have very few helpers to sort books, retrieve them from drop-off locations, deliver them to schools. In other words: Books for Keeps has books, but no resources.
Whatever It Takes has resources galore: business partners, volunteers, media contacts, creative and technical supporters. BUT: It turns out part of their mission is to make books available to Athens kids.... and they have no books. Could this be a match made in heaven? I hope so. What I do know is they've offered to help with a book drive. A BIG book drive.
They've agreed to my only "term and condition": the kids get to own the books. I've agreed to their only "term and condition": Books for Keeps will expand beyond elementary school.
So it's official y'all: we are collecting books for kids and young adults of ALL ages, K-12. And our chances of success just increased exponentially.
What if... what if... geez, I've got chillbumps! What if every child in Athens was a book owner... had something to read right there at home... kept reading over summer...
Whatever It Takes has a massive goal: for every child in Athens not only to "stay in school" and graduate, but to go on to a post-secondary education that prepares them for an actual career. College, technical school, trade school... any kind of education that prepares them for real jobs, with real marketable skills.
What a beautiful future that would be. Isn't it wonderful that Books for Keeps can help?
Please send me your book recommendations for middle school and high school kids. Of course I want your books too! But I'll be developing a wish list (Whatever It Takes even has reading experts!) and your suggestions will help a lot.
It seems funny to say I'm at a loss for words at the end of such a long post, but I've only given you the facts. You're going to have to use your imagination to fill in the excitement and hope and awe hiding behind the words.
This is a big day for Books for Keeps. But stay focused! Spread the word... and send me your books.