book donations

17,500 Books for Somaliland

Mark called to let us know that the container is being loaded mid-April, heading for a new country: Somaliland. Our garage was literally overflowing with boxes and bags in every corner. We could not have fit another book if we tried. We were ready to pack up the truck and send our books, toys, school supplies and clothing on to new homes, children and families!

We called our friends, Paul, Charles and brother Reid, and we began loading the truck.

Mark and Mom kept sorting and boxing while we loaded the truck.

Finally, we were done: 17,500 books and so many toys, stuffed animals, clothes and supplies!

We look forward to sharing the pictures of our items when the shipping container arrives in Somaliland, many months from now!

“There is no God but ALLAH and MOHAMMED is his messenger”

Our Container Arrives in Sierra Leone

We are happy to report that the books we packed (above) with Mark have made it all the way from Brooklyn, NY to Sierra Leone. Mark received this beautiful letter from Sheku, the founder of Hands on Leone. We are grateful to have been able to contribute to this meaningful project.

Dear Mark,

Thank you for making this wonderful project happen in my home country Sierra Leone. As a kid, I dreamed of building a educational center for my fellow disables people. When you are disable in Sierra Leone, you are considered useless and you are not important in the society. I felt this pain when I lost both my hands in the civil war.

After losing my hands at the age of 12, I did not have anyone to pay for my school fee. One day I was setting with my young brother Saio at the Aberdeen refugee camp for amputees, an American Peace Corp came to help amputees kids to go to school and I was one of the kids. I was registered to start school on September 2000 right after the war. After registration, I started school September 6, 2000. Upon my arrival at the Aberdeen school, I was told by the teachers and principal of the school to go home because the is not meant for people like me. I returned at the camp crying and I thought my world had ended. I did not have no mother or father to take care of me. The rebels killed both my parents in the war. I am the older one among my siblings. 

Mr. Gary the American Peace Corp who paid for my school fee, came to see if all the kids he paid school fee for attending school. He came and found me at the same spot where I was setting when he was visiting the camp. I told him my story. After that, he found someone at the camp to tutor me. I attended tutoring class every day until I got the chance to come America. When I arrived here, I found that people with disabilities were well respected.  From that moment on, I told myself after I finished school and get a good job and I will start a organization to help build a educational center for my fellow amputees. Also, in the center we will have medical center to help them with their prosthesis legs and hands.

I want to say thank you to you and your team for making my dreams come true. I look forward to work with you and your team to make this dream true.
Thank you,

Sheku

Winter Book Boxing

Our team gathered to box the numerous books and supplies that we have been collecting over the past several months. 

It was a fun, chilly few hours in the garage. 

We have more than 250 boxes packed, labeled and ready for shipment. 

We still have dozens of boxes of books left to prepare for shipping, and are anticipating another few hundred more that are scheduled to arrive at our garage soon.

We will continue collecting and boxing throughout the winter.

We hope to be able to deliver books to our shipping partners this spring.

Our next target destinations are Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda and Somaliland.  

Greetings from our garage! We can’t wait for children to receive our books!

Sierra Leone: Shipping Container (transports and converts into): Library and Education Center

Blog post courtesy of USACF

Our friends and partners, US-Africa Children’s Fellowship (USACF), recently formed an important partnership with Hands On Sierra Leone. The head of HOSL is Sheku Mansaray, pictured above, and below. Sheku first came to America as a teenager to receive prosthetics to replace his lower arms which were cut off during the civil war in Sierra Leone. Sheku did not go back to Sierra Leone immediately after his surgery. He began a new life in Staten Island. He became a Legal Technology Specialist and now works for Paul Weiss.

Over the last few years, Sheku has turned his attention back to Sierra Leone. He is building a home in Freetown and is working to help the people of Sierra Leone in every way he can.

The focus of HOSL has been to help children of amputees. For the last ten years, HOSL has been paying the school fees for 53 children. The children attend 15 schools around the towns of Makeni, Kono, Luing and Masiaka. But much more needs to be done. None of their schools have libraries. We are all working together and have recently filled a container with children’s books and other needed donations. This 40-foot HC container is now on its way to Sierra Leone. The container has been purchased and will be converted into a library/learning center once it is put down in the town of Makeni.

The Book Fairies in Freeport, Long Island donated 600 boxes of children’s books.

We, from Wonderland BookSavers, donated 125 boxes of books, numerous bags of clothing, and a case of French-language children’s picture books handmade by the students of the Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center in Chicago.

USACF donated 300 boxes of books, schools supplies, soccer gear and clothing for this shipment. Crutches and soccer uniforms have also been collected for a one-legged soccer league. This shipment will change thousands of lives.

There are exciting plans to convert the shipping container into both a library and a learning center. Teachers will attend workshops to learn to use the digital Bridge Pi library which will greatly enhance their student’s access to information.

Sheku’s dream of helping the people of Sierra Leone is taking shape. With your support, we will turn his dream into reality.

Sharing While Sheltering: A Win-Win for NYC

As we shelter in place we continue to collect books and our collections have been growing.  Numerous libraries, unable to host book sales, as well as people stuck at home and enthusiastically reviewing their possessions, have resulted in a surplus of fabulous books and clothing in our garage.

Sebastian received at least 100 boxes of beautiful children’s books, delivered contactless, from The Pawling Free Library.

Brooks was able to bring these books (contactless) to our WBS garage.

Pequot Library brought a pickup truck filled with books to our garage.

Typically, during the summer, we ship these books to Zimbabwe, but this year all our shipments are stuck in Customs, due to Covid-19.

We began receiving requests from NYC shelters, requesting books for homeless children who, unable to attend school, lack internet, and have no access to books, were craving both entertainment and education.  The only issue was that we were unable to deliver the books, and the shelters were unable to receive them, as most locations were unable to accept deliveries due to Covid-19.

Piece of Cake moving company graciously stepped in and offered to donate their truck and men to our cause.

Piece of Cake came to our garage, and on a bright sunny day, with all of us moving quickly, we were able to fill their entire truck.

Partnering with our various friends, including Pawling Free Library, Pequot Library, Piece of Cake Moving & Storage, St.Pius X Parish, Book Fairies, US-Africa Children’s Fellowship, and NYC homeless shelters, including WIN-NYC, we were jointly able to share over 20,000 books and numerous clothing items across multiple shelters in all 5 Manhattan boroughs.

We hope that access to books brings some relief from the endless boredom of sheltering, sheltering sheltering!

Visiting the Rez

South Dakota and Montana are home to some of the most starkly beautiful locations on earth: American Indian Reservations, colloquially known as “The Rez.”  American Indian children, like many children, love learning and reading.  Unfortunately, the remote residences located across enormous numbers of acres means that many children lack access to books.

After a winter of book collecting, and a spring of organizing and boxing, we were ready for a summer of travel.The drive across country is very looong.  Annabel searched ridiculous places to stop along the way, and this really helped our attitude,“Only 4 more hours to the Giant Pink Elephant!”“6 more hours to the Jolly Green Giant!” and of course we all loved being welcomed to Welcome!Camping added to our sense of adventure. Giant American flags are popular at the camp grounds!Our first stop was Lame Deer Montana, location of the 445,000-acre Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.  We brought children’s picture books to the Chief Wooden Leg Library, part of Chief Dull Knife College. These books will be shared with 8 Head Start programs located across the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. It was an honor to learn about Chief Wooden Leg who fought in both the Battle of Rosebud and the Battle of Little Big Horn, two locations we have visited several times.We next visited Rosebud Reservation, where we met with our friend Beth,and dropped off many boxes of books that will also be distributed across the reservation, enhancing 20 libraries we helped create at various community centers last summer.Our next two stops were both on Pine Ridge reservation.  First, we went to our favorite school, Red Cloud Indian School.  This successful school was originally started by Red Cloud and the Jesuits.  Its aim is to provide Indian children with an extensive education that equally combines a Catholic education while honoring and adhering to Native American faith practices.  This school also includes a Lakota language immersion program in which children as young as 18 months can learn Lakota as their native language. We have often contributed both books and funds supporting the Lakota language program and we were happy to be back bringing more books.After our stop at Red Cloud School we continued through the Pine Ridge Reservation to Red Shirt Table Elementary School.  Here we met our many of our friends who are working with Laura to create a fun summer camp for children in the Red Shirt Table region.  We brought our usual supply of picture books, along with a few toys.No trip across America would be complete without our travel adventures.  These included attending church at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, Hiking Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Visiting churches and museums in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Spray painting cars at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, Visiting Ye Grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tennessee And riding roller coasters in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.From Sea to Shining Sea: One American Summer.And now, mid-winter, we are making plans to return to work at Summer Camp, and help build houses in the Children’s Village on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. Would you like to join us?

Thank You Pawling Library! By Sebastian

During this season of reflecting on our blessings, we can’t help but think about our friends at the Pawling Library in Pawling, NY. The Friends of Pawling Library have been a true and constant blessing to the work of Wonderland BookSavers, and particularly Library Trustee Karen Franco and her husband Juan Franco, who have been generously and consistently donating and delivering hundreds of boxes of books every year to Wonderland since 2018.

A few years ago, I contacted Pawling Library about their annual book sale, hoping they would consider donating any remaindered books from their sale to WBS. The Friends of Pawling Library were not only willing to donate their leftover books, but Ms. Franco suggested continuing their support throughout the year! The Francos deliver boxes of beautiful childrens’ and young adults’ books into my family’s garage, even when we’re not there!  We come home and boxes of books have miraculously appeared to be sorted and distributed around the world, to children in need.

Books from The Pawling Library have thus far been delivered to Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Kenya in Africa, as well as the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Reservations in South Dakota. Last year, when the Kyamaganda Community Development Organization in Uganda requested Bibles for their staff members that go out to the different villages they serve, the Francos came to the rescue, somehow procuring 45 used and remaindered bibles nearly overnight!

Several months later, this message came from Willy Bukenya who leads that organization: “With smiling heart and happy face, I am happy to inform you that your donated 52 boxes of books, learning materials and sports and games equipment have arrived today in Uganda and at Kyamaganda Community Development Organization.  My team was happy too with the Bibles which will strengthen the spiritual nature of our project staff!”

In Mr. Bukenya’s perfect words, with smiling hearts and happy faces, we deeply thank The Friends of the Pawling Library for their ceaseless support and generosity in helping us bring books to children and communities in need. Their tireless help and support has been a great blessing to this organization, and we hope to continue our partnership for years to come.

Thank you Pawling Library! We Love you! PS Thank you for writing my name on every box, here you can see the very boxes you donated, in Uganda, with Sebastian written across the top!

Somalia

In partnership with our friends from US-Africa Children’s Fellowship and United Muslin Relief, we have been able to send several containers of clothing, blankets, backpacks and books to refugees living in Somalia.

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.

Little Labs…Big Imagination

Fairfield University hosts teachers from Bridgeport and beyond, creating a writing center that seeks to teach young children the joys of reading and creative writing. Our friend, Gina, asked us to contribute books that could be distributed throughout Bridgeport classrooms, enabling children to have better access to quality literature. We packed up 1,100 books, and brought them to the teachers.

Gina set up the books as a help-yourself free book shop, allowing the teachers to select books that would be a great fit for their classrooms.  We are working with Gina to bring, along with books, some of the creative writing skills developed in Little Labs…Big Imagination to the Cheyenne River reservation this coming summer.

Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe

This summer we packed up 15,000 books for shipment to Africa.

It took our whole team days to prepare the books, and several hours to load the truck.

Even our new puppy, Legend hopped up to help us!

On loading day, our friend and partner, Mark from US-Africa Children’s Fellowship, met us in our garage.

We had to weigh every box and fill out the Bill of Lading.

Finally we were done! But for Mark, the adventure was just beginning!

Mark traveled to Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, unloading boxes of books in every country!

All our boxes of books finding new homes on a new continent, and so many happy faces! Mark is our hero too!