A good start to 2011
A couple of months ago, Julia Snider, a middle school teacher at Audubon Elementary called and asked if her class could do a book drive. Her class, he seventh grade girls advisory, who call themselves, “John’s Hawks” after their principal’s name and their school mascot spent about 2 months collecting books for Rock For Reading. In mid February, we went over to pick up the books. Not knowing what to expect, I drove my car over and was confronted with so many books that it filled my entire car (Front seat, back seat and trunk) TWICE. In total, over 1000 books (still counting). These books are being sorted as we speak, and will soon be distributed to children in need of reading materials!
The girls are: Natalia Estrada, Olivia Carter, Iliana Alvarez, Monica Estrada, Delia Crisantos, Italia Fields, Yasmin Miranda, Ashlee Matias, Katherine Gomez, Ariel Gonzalez and Nicole Hurley. It feels good to see kids with a social conscience working together!
Speaking of social conscience, Rhymefest (Che Smith), Grammy award winning co-writer, with Kanye West, of the hit single “Jesus Walks” and a recording star in his own right, is running for Alderman in the 20th Ward in Chicago. He has some great ideas, foremost a commitment to improving literacy rates in his ward. To that end, he held a contest over the Winter break, to challenge all the public schools in his ward to read as many books over the break and write book reports. The winning school, Walter Reed Elementary won a party on the day after Valentine’s Day. Every child got a certificate signed by Rhymefest, all the Eli’s Cheesecake they could eat, and five books donated by Rock For Reading. The books were very warmly received, and we promised the principal that we would keep supplying books to the school.
November, 2010 Another donation from Abdo
Abdo has done it again! In November they donated 78,000 new books to us. These books were shipped to us from St. Paul, Minnesota by our friends at Upstaging. After sorting the books in our warehouse, word went out to all of our teacher partners, and the orders started pouring in. Within a week, most of the books have been delivered to schools all over Chicagoland. Last week, the Morton School of Excellence held a literacy night, where students and parents participated in some reading classes, learned salsa dancing, ate some great food and, at the end of the night, each student took home a bundle of six books to read and to start their home libraries with. Thanks to Kristine Utley, Reading specialist extraordinaire.
In March we received a call from Kathleen Clarke from Lerner Publishing in Minneapolis with a donation of 16,747 books! Shortly after that we had them picked up and delivered to our warehouse, and sorted them. There are 105 different titles. We are working on placing these books as we speak!!
Late 2009- Early 2010
This past November we got a call from Wanda Fisher in the Borders midwest office offering us the proceeds of a book drive that Borders was holding at 21 stores in the Chicagoland area. At each of these stores, anyone buying anything was asked if they wanted to add to their bill and buy a book for a child. 40, 174 people agreed to do this, and we spent a large portion of December traveling around to all of these stores picking up large boxes of great new books (about 600 boxes) Thank you Amy, Will (and Will’s iPhone GPS) and Jeff from our board who helped out with the pickups!
In December, with the help of our book finding partner Linda Weigl, we were offered 87,499 from ABDO Publishing in the Minneapolis area. We called our trusty rock and roll trucking company Upstaging, and they dispatched 2 trucks to the frozen north, and two days later, ERC Delivery was filled with almost 125,000 books!!
On the first two Saturdays of January, our sorting teams went into action.
First week sorting team:
Barry O’Connell, Deb Seitz, Will Fletcher, Lisa Simon Cohen, Sue Stone, Kelly Christopher, Meghan Boyer, Marlene Feibel, Amy Kaplan, Jennifer Jensen and Shelli Rosenfeld.
Second week sorting team:
Shelli Rosenfeld, Deb Seitz, Liz Moore, Susan Mackesey (and her two kids), Melissa Wood, Clay Perschall, Jennifer Peterson, Andrew Smith, Sue Stone, Carroll O’Connell, Meri LeBlanc and Tracy Barrientos.
Made up of our board members and volunteers, they open and sorted about 500 boxes of books, with the help of pizza and donuts, and reboxed everything into categories!
In between the two sorting sessions, Tom from ERC organized and counted the ABDO donation.
Starting on Monday, January 11th, we are sending out lists of all of these books to our contacts in the teaching community, and the fun begins!!
In February we received a donation of 143,000 books from Heinemann-Raintree. After sorting them, we have started to distribute them to the Chicagoland area. As of April 6th, we have distributed about 40,000 books to 15 different schools and organizations.
Here is a sampling of the procedings:
On May 1st, board members Jeff Peterson and Paul Natkin journeyed to the Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy to help distribute their shipment of books. Jeff interviewed some of the students (check out his blog entry)
and the students enjoyed the books! They immediatly sat down in the hall and started reading! Thanks to the work of Literacy Coach Margaret McGregor and Principal Craig Benes.
Schiller School. Junior board member Jason Mount and Paul Natkin helped distribute about 1000 books to the students of Schiller School with the help of Debbie Shepard of the Chicago Sinai Congregation.
During that same week, Cathy Clark at the John L. Marsh Elementary School distributed about 800 books that we delivered to her.
On Thursday, April 2nd, 4th grade teacher Sue Stone and Principal Victor Iturraide passed out books to many of the students at The Chicago Academy. Each student got to take two books home with them that day.