We are happy to have filled our truck with 17,500 books, numerous toys of all kinds, including many bags of stuffed animals waiting to be loved, school supplies and clothing. These items will join the shipping container in mid-April and head to Somaliland to warm the hearts of waiting children and families.
We are happy to report that the books we packed with Mark, USACF, have made it all the way from Brooklyn, NY to Sierra Leone. Mark received a beautiful letter from Sheku, the founder of Hands on Leone. We are grateful to have been able to contribute to this meaningful project.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Award
We are very proud to announce that Brooks, on behalf of the entire Wonderland BookSavers team, has been awarded the silver medal for community service by The Prudential Spirit of Community Award organization. Additionally, he has been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for the numerous hours he has dedicated to improving global literacy through access to books. This award will hopefully raise awareness and recognition of the importance of literacy in improving global health and independence. When asked for his advice regarding global initiatives, Brooks says, “The part that stands out the most to me is how important it is to start small.” This thought echoes our very first WBS favorite inspirational quote from 2012, “Your mind knows you are going to Song-do. But you must not tell your body. It must think one hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk.” (A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park). All proceeds from this award will be contributed to Wonderland BookSavers to further our numerous endeavors.
Winter Book Boxing
Despite the cold and wintry weather, we have been busy boxing books and sorting them so that they each box is ready for specific recipients. Our next target shipping locations are Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Somaliland. We also hope to be able to bring books to the Oglala Lakota on the Cheyenne River reservation in South Dakota.
Building Solar Digital Libraries
This winter, in partnership with our friends Bob and Manning from USACF, we split into teams to build several solar powered digital libraries that we then shared with our partners in the Kyamaganda Community of the Lwengo District of Uganda. These libraries are stored on a miniature computer, a Raspberry PI. Bob and Manning, and some WBS kids, compiled the material. The books which are stored on the raspberry PI include African stories, classic British and American literature currently in the public domain, textbooks in the subjects of math, science, history and health, Khan Academy lessons, Wikipedia excerpts, and Health and Agriculture texts relevant to African life. In total, there are 1,000’s of books or lessons available to either view or download.
We sent 3 solar powered digital libraries to the Kyamaganda Community in Uganda. They held a training session at the KCDO library, and will share these digital libraries with schools and students on 2021.
Sierra Leone: Shipping Container/Education Center
Sheku Mansaray lost both his arms during the Sierra Leone civil war. He received his protheses in the USA and has now returned to his native country to aid other victims of this war. He is the head of Hands On Sierra Leone, and desires to build libraries in 15 schools across Sierra Leone. We partnered with US-Africa Children’s Fellowship to help make Sheku’s dreams a reality. Together with USACF and the Book Fairies, we were jointly able to fill an entire shipping container of books, school supplies, and crutches and soccer equipment for the one-legged soccer teams.
USACF purchased the shipping container. It will remain in Sierra Leone and be retrofitted to become a combination library and learning center. Our books will be the first books in this new centralized library, and will contribute to the individual libraries planned in the towns of Makeni, Kono, Luing and Masiaka.
Uganda: SolarBag Water Purifiers Distributed
We are very happy that, in partnership with our friends at SolarBag®, we were able to deliver 100 SolarBags to the villagers residing in the Kyamaganda Community. Each SolarBag® can be used multiple times and provides a family with the ability to create their own safe drinking water.
This is a beautifully simple solution to the complex problem of providing safe drinking water to rural areas.
PPE from California to Uganda
A very generous contribution of cloth and plastic face masks, as well as other Covid-19 Personal Protection Equipment, which will protect the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization (KCDO), arrived in Uganda, shipped from California. The package was prepared by Dr. Eliza Lo Chin, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the American Women’s Hospitals Service, a program of the American Medical Women’s Association, https://www.amwa-doc.org/, and by her friend, Khawaja. Funding for this shipment was provided by WBS through our GoFundMe page. We thank our generous donors.
Yemeni Refugee Camps
It took many months to overcome the huge obstacles that held up delivery of two containers filled with supplies. But finally they have arrived!
Mark writes, “Thank you all once again for every blanket, toy, piece of clothing, soccer ball, tarp, toiletry, shoe, houseware. school supply and vitamin that your students collected. It all makes a difference. Yemen is being ravaged by the virus.”
Pandemic Partnership: Lwengo District, UgandaThe Covid-19 pandemic is particularly difficult in rural Uganda. The Kyamaganda Community has no running water, quarantines make it difficult to access food. Shuttered schools mean no school meals and no homes for HIV orphans. We partnered with our community and with KCDO to improve conditions, sending money for rice, beans and cooking oil, as well as Jerry cans filled with Purell. We purchased sewing machines which enabled residents to make their own mask, and to sell these masks to the government, providing funds to purchase food. KCDO traveled throughout the region sharing masks and Covid-19 safety information.
Homeless, NYC, Sheltering with Books: Covid-19
Win-NYC, an organization which provides housing for homeless families, contacted us during the Covid-19 shutdown. Kids needed books. We are grateful to our numerous local libraries, churches, and to Piece of Cake Moving & Storage, all of whom enabled us to donate over 20,000 books, many, many bags of clothing and school supplies, to multiple homeless shelters in all 5 boroughs of NYC.
American Indian Reservations: Northern Cheyenne, Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Pine Ridge
Summers 2017, 2018, 2019 and soon 2020, we have traveled to South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, delivering books to the most remote, and poorest corners of the USA.We have built over 20 community libraries, donated several thousand books and toys to Indian schools, supported summer camp programs and helped fund Lakota language immersion programs. We are proud to support Native Americans.
Creating a Piggery: Lwengo District, Uganda
We worked with the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization in Uganda to create their first village piggery. Women are being trained in piggery management. Our funds enabled the village to build a water catchment system for clean rain water,and pig stys for 22 piglets. The wood is coated in oil to prevent rot. Now they have 20 piglets and several boars. We are hopeful this will be a success.
We are gratified to learn that books we have donated today, and those we will donate in the future will be used to promote learning in 3 newly established Somalian schools.
We donated 1,100 books to be distributed in public schools throughout Bridgeport, CT.
Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe
We sent 15,000 books to Africa through our friend Mark from US-Africa Children’s Fellowship. The books arrived this fall and were greeted with many smiles!
Our books reached 16 schools in Nigeria, and numerous schools in Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe: Beads for Baby Heroes Africa
A unique donation of jewelry making supplies enabled us to support Baby Heroes Africa.
Baby Heroes Africa trains volunteers to assist mothers and babies during their stay at the local hospital. They have included beaded jewelry making as one component of their outreach, making jewelry to sell to support their mission.
Baby Heroes Africa said, “The beads and craft accessories donation helps us to support mothers of preterm babies who spend months on end in the hospital caring for their babies.”
We are amazed at how our books can travel to new locations, seemingly by themselves. Here is a wonderful letter we received,
“I am Victory, that is how my children call me. In fact, I was overwhelmed when a friend to my husband presented some books to us as a gift, I took the address and went into the website, behold, I got your site and I saw the marvelous work being carried out by this organization. I was very happy to let you know who I am.
In effect, I manage an orphanage called Cavoahcam with 32 kids from primary to secondary schools, including technical and vocational trainees. Besides the orphanage, there is a rural community technical college in Ntui created by the Christians from the Baptist church, 420 pupils and 125 students from technical studies(carpentry, building, electricity, and commercial). Materials remain the main challenges for both the teachers and the learners.
Once more, God bless you for the wonderful job being carried out so far.
Kyamaganda Community Development Organization, Lwengo District, Uganda
After 3 years of planning, our boxes of school books, art and school supplies and sports equipment have arrived! We love the Stanford University and University of California Riverside sports jerseys! And now there is a pencil for every student in the District.
High School Scholarship: Red Cloud Indian School
In honor of our friend, Max Finney, who died unexpectedly at age 14, we donated the funds to support one student for four years of high school at the Red Cloud Indian School. Max loved exploring and the outdoors and was a proud Jesuit student.
This is our second year partnering with the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center where the students in French 2 create beautiful handmade and illustrated booklets in French. We then share these books with Susy of Haitian Education Initiatives.
The books bring great joy to the children in Jacmel, Haiti where they love the fact that books were created by students, just for them.
New Haven, CT: Love146, Refuge for Child Victims of Trafficking
We joined together several communities of friends, including those from Connecticut College, the Coast Guard, and Wetherbee School in MA. Together we made dozens of comforting blankets and books of poetry, all packaged in beautifully hand-painted bags.
Child trafficking must be eliminated. We applaud the efforts of Love146 to end this tragedy, and to protect those who have been victimized.
Bangladesh: Rohingya Refugees
We are partnering with 50 schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, gathering clothing, school supplies, household goods, cooking implements, and sheltering tarps. Our shipment will reach these needy refugees who are bravely living in dire circumstances.
We were motivated by the FCDS school motto: Laborious Iciducamur, We are Judged by Our Deeds. We send prayers for peace, tranquility and happiness to our Roshingya peers
Jordan: Syrian Refugees
Joining our friend Mark, and 50 schools in NYC, we contributed 50 cases of our handmade blankets to a shipment container that brought these items to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Mark hand delivered to these items to hundreds of families.
5,000 much needed school books sent for our first delivery to Nigeria, an area that is struggling to educate an enormous population of young children, 40% of whom do not currently attend school. We are also pleased to know that our books will help educate girls as well as boys.
100 handmade and illustrated french children’s books, created by students in John McMillan’s french class in Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago, were delivered to children who participate in an educational center in Jacmel Haiti. We worked with both John and Suzy for several months to make this project a success. These connections were made possible through our website! If you have an idea that reaches kids, join us!
Hundreds of English,Spanish and bi-lingual books are donated through Pequot Library’s Christmas Party to support Julio’s literacy program in Bridgeport, CT.
South Africa: 129 Boxes of Books
Counted and weighed by Wills and Reid
Zimbabwe: Books & Pen Pal Letters
The entire summer is spent gathering, sorting and preparing books for donation.
Throughout fall, 10,000 books and multiple boxes of school supplies, games and toys, are packed.
And dozens of letters, that have taken months of travel, are exchanged!
Summer Service Camp
This summer the Wonderland BookSavers hosted a Day Camp that used literature, art and games to provide opportunities for campers to experience diverse cultural backgrounds. Campers learned about children from around the world, and gathered items they could share to improve the lives of others.
The Summer Service Camp raised over $1,000 for literacy programs in our community, collected 100’s of shoes and books for local and international children and made dozens of blankets for hospitalized children. More importantly, it taught a new group of children the gift of giving and the inspiration that can be found in literature and art.
Oglala Lakota Nation
This summer the Wonderland BookSavers traveled, as a group, to South Dakota, to personally deliver 5,000 books to children living on Rosebud, Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Reservations. The landscape was barren, but beautiful. The children were welcoming and delighted in sharing their traditions, such as Indian Tacos, with us. Our books helped to build community libraries throughout the 10,000 square mile region.
Knot-Yet-a-Blanket & Book: Sloan Kettering Pediatric Oncology Delivery
In honor of our absolutely favorite Children’s Librarian, Susan EI, of Pequot Library, who has always believed in the dreams of children, we donated these Blankets with the true hope that her dreams that all children should be healthy and happy will come true. We know that Susan’s soul now soars with the children in Heaven.
Knot-Yet-a-Blanket & Book: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Delivery
We are happy to be able to contribute to CHAD, Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Child Life Program. This hospital was very supportive of one of our team members when he came in unexpectedly for an emergency visit. Upon admission, he received a homemade gift which was welcoming and reassuring. We are thankful we can help CHAD continue this tradition.
Knot-Yet-a-Blanket & Book: Brown Bag Comfort
Knot-Yet-a-Blanket kits provide do-it-yourself comfort and entertainment for children who are suffering from diseases which require long term hospitalization.
One Knot Yet a Blanket & Book donation went to Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg Campus Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Ward in Allentown Pennsylvania.
Shannon, our WBS friend and long-time volunteer with the pediatric oncology program, shared them with the patients during their chemotherapy sessions. She writes, “Just want to let you know that I took the Blanket Bags to the hospital and they were a huge hit! A few kids started making theirs immediately and we sent a few to some kids who are stuck in the hospital for inpatient treatments.”
Our books are in the best hands!
Disney Youth Grant Awarded 2017
Working together, Quinn, Maddie and Brooks secured this grant that will direct many of our activities in 2017. This grant will be the cornerstone of efforts to build local community awareness and involvement in boosting literacy rates both domestically and internationally by providing access to both paper and digital reading materials to children who lack basic reading supplies. This team-created video was one component of our application.
7,500 Textbooks to South Africa
We spent all fall sorting through numerous donations from generous students and we contacted countries across the African continent. South Africa has a strong education initiative and is receptive to building new schools. They welcomed our donation of brand new textbooks, school supplies, reading and math manipulatives and primary school building toys.
Curious what it looks like to box that many books? Take a peak into our garage!
Reid displays a sampling of the many textbooks we were able to gather and donate.
Andre and Brooks Encourage Reading
Literacy is important for everyone and one of our missions is to ensure that all children learn to love reading. We host book clubs at Pequot Library and at local schools throughout Connecticut, as well as our own online One Book: One World Book Club. Join us!
Brooks and Brooks Tag Team at the Tag Sale for Books
Zimbabwe Letters Reach Our Pen Pal Students
Many American students are eager to connect with the students to whom they are donating books. Despite the fact that Africa is a continent away, they feel closely connected because they know that the books they share will be read and loved by children just like themselves. We have cautioned that the great distance and lack of regular postal systems makes pen pal relationships nearly impossible. Our Massachusetts students were thrilled when they received a package of letters all the way from Zimbabwe…
We hope to travel, with Mark of US-Africa Children’s Fellowship, one of our community partners, to Zimbabwe one day soon.
ZappRx sponsors our Reach Out and Read Donations
ZappRx, one of our community partners, located in Boston and New York, provided us with a generous donation that allows us to provide thousands of quality books to Boston’s Reach Out and Read literacy program. Our commitment to ZappRx is that we place a “Happy Reading from ZappRx” sticker in every book we donate to this program.
ZappRz funding enabled us to become a 501(c)3 charity. Thank you ZappRx!
Opens our first bank account, now that Wonderland BookSavers, Inc. is an official 501(c)3 charity!
After making his first deposit, Reid writes his first check, a donation to …
We wanted to help our Haitian friends who suffered from the October 2016 hurricane. Susy showed us pictures of the school, to which we have sent many textbooks, in Cayes-Jacmel. In the pictures, rapids of muddy brown water race over the concrete platform of the school. The school in Cayes-Jacmel is open air, and consists of a concrete foundation with posts from which a tarp is draped over to provide shade, or protection from rain. Susy explained that now the school is being excavated from the thick layers of mud and debris.
After meeting with Susy, we presented her with a check written by Reid to support the relief Haitian Educational Initiatives is providing.
Batwa Pygmy Tribe
Books delivered by our Community Partner, Zoë Barry, Founder and CEO of ZappRx.
Rwanda and Uganda
Books delivered by our Community Partner, Zoë Barry, Founder and CEO of ZappRx.
Reach Out and Read: Tufts Floating Pediatric HospitalWith the help of the donations of many children we were able to bring over 1,000 picture books to Tufts Reach Out and Read Boston program.“Those are really books in that box, I promise!”
5,000 Books Packed for …
South Africa and Uganda on a Hot Summer’s Day
When shipping to South Africa, every box must be weighed and all the contents itemized.
But we had many friends to help us, and plenty of red t-shirts to share!
Brooks and Reid responded to the call for T-shirts needed for an orphanage located high in the hills of Ecuador. Within hours they had located over 100 T-shirts and were ready with their donation.
Lemonade for Literacy!
The summer found us, as usual, hosting our annual “Lemonade for Literacy” stand at the Pequot Library’s 56th Annual Book Sale.
We have lots of fun, buy tons of books and all of the proceeds go directly to the Pequot Library. The books go all over the world.
Medieval Arts Summer Workshop
Because we love books, particularly beautiful ones, we decided to host a medieval arts workshop to celebrate the art of the illuminated manuscript and to enjoy the lost art of cursive writing and manuscript decoration.
We also shared our love of the outdoors by performing Shakespeare vignettes under the trees and studying original paintings in the Audubon book.
15,000 Books Packed for Zimbabwe and Ghana
It takes awhile, but then when it’s done, it feels great, and we’re on to the next!
Haitian-Creole Native Language Books Arrive
Letters of Love
Some of the greatest gifts that we can share with one another are the simple gifts of love and caring. Children across the continents are so excited to get “mail” from other children. We have been able to deliver 100’s of letters from groups of children to one another.
From Massachusetts to Africa
These excited kids from Massachusetts discovered when they moved into their new school building that they had more books than they needed. They did their research, determined to find a way to send their books to children in Africa, and they found us!
Susy, the President of Haitian Education Initiatives, asked us if we could help purchase books for her Haitian students in their native Creole language. Although we don’t often buy books, we were able to do this ($1,099!) thanks to a gift from ZappRx. We are very happy that young children and students will be better able to understand literature, math and science as their books will be in their own language.
Susy told us that the children in Jamel love getting letters from US children. We invented “Poster Pals”.
Here our Bridgeport friends are creating posters with notes and pictures for the children in Haiti. Susy will deliver the posters when she delivers the books.
We look forward to our Haitian friends writing back! Poster Pals are the easy way to connect.
This excited group of Cub Scouts has just completed their service project, led by Reid. They have gathered 8 boxes of pencils, markers, crayons and rulers. The school supplies are packed and ready for delivery.
We are very happy to be able, with the support of ZappRx, to donate 2,000 young children’s books to the Reach Out & Read literacy program located in Tufts Pediatric Floating Hospital. This program provides a free book to each child who receives free medical services. Doctors have found that promoting early literacy helps with the overall health and well-being of the child.
Reach Out & Read coordinator, Carole, said, “Listen carefully. I am CHEERING that this will be a relationship past the holidays. You have no idea how happy that makes me. I want our clinics to be adopted.” We plan to continue our support of this valuable mission.
A school librarian asked for our help procuring Dr. Suess books. We were able to bring an almost complete set (see top shelf). Emma read The Sneetches, a book that encourages inclusion of all, “A Sneetch is a Sneetch, and no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beach.”
We brought art supplies and helped the children build their very own life-sized Sneetch machine.
Once it was done, “They kept coming through…” (Sneetches)
This project was so much fun for everyone. In total, over 400 kids contributed to the building of the Sneetch machine. The librarian told us, “The Sneetch machine is still a hit with the kids! Thank you so much for bringing this project to my school. My students are still decorating it and earning dollars to pass through the machine and earn their belly star!”
We are very happy to be able to donate a half pallet (8 boxes) of toys. 132 pounds of fun! Finding toys to send is not as easy as you think. They have to be unbroken, require neither electricity nor batteries, and have no missing parts. We know from our friend Mark, the importance of toys in education. When Mark first donated one box of toys to a primary school he found, upon his return, that enrollment had increased by 60 pupils! All the children came to play with the toys. Reid, in particular, wants to donate more toys.
After a summer of Lemonade for Literacy stands and a long fall of sorting, boxing and labeling books we were ready for our largest donation of the season, an entire truck load of books for students in South Africa. This donation includes boxes of elementary books filled with both fiction and non-fiction, as well as dozens of upper level texts for high school use.
Andre and Brooks were given the opportunity to “hand pick” books to be donated to kids their age. They picked some of their favorite books.And finally the truck was packed! South Africa requires that every box is labeled and weighed, so after careful calculations, we found that we sent 6,700 pounds of books!
Reid’s school participated in the Kindness Challenge, 15 days of gathering shoes to donate to Kenya. Together the school was able to donate 3,000 pairs of shoes to needy children!
Reid searched through his Wonderland BookSaver collection, and was able to contribute 70 pairs of nearly new shoes! It was a heavy load for this 8-year old!
A 2nd grade teacher reached out to us saying, “I have just arrived in my classroom and found that we have no Social Studies books!” Our local 3rd grade Cub Scouts got right to work. They found a complete set of 2nd grade text books, which they carefully cleaned until they sparkled. Textbook: Neighborhoods & Communities: The World Around Us. We found 12 copies of this text, to be shared with a class of 24.The Cub Scouts spent several weeks gathering dozens of books on a variety of appropriate topics, and built an entire social studies curriculum, based upon the teacher’s requests.Collecting books is fun, especially when you can read them and know that other children will enjoy them just as much as you do! Our favorite was The Buffalo Jump!
Today we donated our entire collection of French children’s books to our Haitian partners. We were so gratified to receive photographs of children reading the books we had previously donated.
We also had the opportunity to interview the Director of Haitian Education Initiatives, Susy Whitcomb. She said, “Think about your lives. You have all these beautiful books, several books for each subject and many adults who can help you learn. But Haitian children have no books.
Many children have never seen a book until they come to school. There are no books in their homes and their parents cannot read. They have never had a story read to them so even as they learn to read the words they have trouble understanding that the words are telling a tale, just like the fireside stories they are use to listening to from their parents.
We read to them so that they can understand that reading is done with inflection, not a monotone of words read without punctuation.” Ms. Whitcomb requested that we assemble children’s books written in the Haitian nation language of Creole. That is the next project we will be undertaking!
This morning we delivered our most recent boxes of clothes, blankets, books and medical supplies to our community partners who will be delivering these supplies to Zimbabwe on their annual summer trip.This picture illustrates the importance of even just one book. We are hoping our Zimbabwe friends will be thrilled with our books and other supplies.We included a van full of hand made blankets, made by our sibling team, Project I.C.E.and an enormous case of bandages, donated by Nexcare 3M, and everyone’s favorite…cases of school supplies gathered by Reid and packed by Pierce!and a 33 volume encyclopedia! We are eager for photos from our Zimbabwe friends.
Bridgeport, CT Literacy ProgramHundreds of books contributed to a literacy program will enable children to bring books home to share with their families, as well as providing them with easy readers to assist with after school literacy programs.
Today we packed our lightest paperback books with very simple words, or with illustrations only.
We packed our smallest packages of toys, card games, alphabet cards and simple math games. And we packed a very large, and air-light case of Nexcare 3M bandages. Items will be delivered via backpack!
We are excited to say that our books will be traveling to the top of the world! We wonder what they will think of our Princess and Spider-Man sticker books?