kids and community service

Boxing Books: An Inspirational Visit by Sebastian

One day last summer, I went for what I thought was going to be a regular day of hanging out with my new friends Pierce, Brooks, Emma, Claire, and Maddie from my school, little did I know I’d end up crashing a Wonderland BookSavers meeting and boxing books in their garage and having an absolute blast!!! But besides having fun, I was mostly deeply inspired by their dedicated work to bring books and literature to those without. When I got in the car to go home, I told to my mom I’d felt like I’d been wasting so much of my life when I could have been really making a difference in the world. I am so inspired by my friends and since then I’ve tried to help in any way I can.

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My pastor likes to quote Sojourner Truth’s wise words that “Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff,” and for me it was really amazing to see my friends, my very same age, making such a direct and tangible difference for humanity.

During the week, I live in Brooklyn, so I figured maybe I could help by reaching out to schools in my community there. Two amazing private schools in Brooklyn were just as inspired by Wonderland BookSavers and were eager to contribute.

The first school to reach out to us was The Berkeley Carroll School. Berkeley Carroll has been so incredibly generous to the Wonderland BookSavers mission— Thank you Berkeley Carroll! The librarians there, Ms. Briar Suaro and Ms. Kristine Hartley-Maneri, have been so kind in reaching out whenever they have books to share and have donated some 50 boxes of books to date!

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The Brooklyn Friends School was also eager to contribute and offered us a great number of books as well. For the first pick-up, Ms. Ryan and I arranged to meet at the entrance where they could most easily unload the books on Pearl Street in downtown Brooklyn. Picking up books on one-way streets in Brooklyn can always be a little tricky — you usually have to block a little traffic but we try to do it quickly! — and Ms. Ryan warned us we’d have to do some slightly illegal maneuvering in order to get to the unloading spot. But as it turned out, we never had to worry about that because when we went to pick up the books that day we discovered a street fair! A two-block radius around Brooklyn Friends had been blocked off and filled with street vendors! Never daunted, the kind custodian of the school loaned me a dolly so that I could wheel the books down Willoughby Street to where my mom was waiting with the car on the other side. I wonder if those books will always have a faint kabob smell?

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Here we are re-boxing books into smaller boxes in Brooklyn before bringing them up to Connecticut to the Barry’s garage!

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We also live upstate on the weekends and so I started looking around up there for other opportunities to find books for Wonderland BookSavers too. We found two libraries that were willing to donate all the books they had left over after their annual book sale fundraisers. First we visited the Pawling library, who kindly gave us a generous stack of books (they will be able to give us even more this spring!) And then we visited the Patterson library. Ms. Graham at the Patterson Library so generously offered to donate all of the remainder children’s books from their library! Thank you Patterson Public Library!

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Finally, we brought the books to the Barry’s garage!

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Oh and that’s my sister Emmeline — she has been helping with all of the book moving and packing too and says “Wonderland BookSavers really is a Wonderland because it’s so fun and also kind-of like Magic.” I think she said it perfectly.

Our Bibles Reach China

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22: 37-40 KJV)

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Emma carrying a box

Our neighbors are the peoples of the world; and while we recognize that each of us can have only a very small impact, we try to share our love with each person we meet. Together we hope to make many feel joyful and needed.

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Initially when we were approached with a request to send 50 Bibles across the world to China we hesitated. Would the Bibles really reach China? Did the people in China really want Bibles? Really need Bibles?

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But then as we began to do some research we realized that not only is China the country that has the fastest growing Christian population, it is also a country that is religiously intolerant and is persecuting its own citizens, taking down crosses,

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and attempting to destroy churches and jail priests and bishops.

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This made us very sad.

Faced with the potential destruction of their church by government forces, one protestor told the Telegraph,

“A church is a sacred place and we are all brothers and sisters; Christianity has made a big contribution to society in many ways.”

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And so, we joined with many others, and send our prayers for peace and acceptance, along with 50 Chinese Bibles, across the seas, to China.  Join us in our prayer for peace and unity!

It is our hope that President Obama will join us as well!

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               Barack Obama urged to use G20 China visit to fight for persecuted Christians

 

 

 

 

 

ZappRx Partnership Brings Books to New Horizons in Africa

Our community partner, Zoe Barry, Founder and CEO of ZappRx,, recently traveled to Uganda and Rwanda.

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Kampala, a large city in Uganda

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Roadside market, Rwanda

Zoe traveled light, with only 33 pounds of allowable packed luggage, she made the most of it, img_7565

packing paperback stories, coloring books and crayons

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for distribution to children throughout her trip.

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Note: Cautionary tales promoting chastity are posted on the closed shutters when this “dialy” school is done for the day.

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Young girl in foreground is balancing a machete on her head. Obviously more coordinated than most US toddlers!

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Armed guards accompanied Zoe and her companion as they delivered books.

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Everyone loves to see themselves!

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Zoe, delivering books to members of the Batwa Pygmy Tribe.

Ahh…Africa…

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Wonderland BookSavers’ 2016 Quote of the Year

Written by Madeline

In August of 2012, Claire, Emma and Brooks Morgan and I read A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. The four of us had just recently formed into a book club, and this was the first book we read as a club. We decided to complete a project after each book we read, and we designated a quote-banner as our project for A Single Shard.

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Left to right: Claire, Emma, Madeline, and Brooks Morgan work on their “A Single Shard” banners

We chose to emblazon our banners with an inspiring quote from A Single Shard which goes as follows. “Your mind knows that you are going to Songdo. But you must not tell your body. It must think, one hill, one valley, one day at a time. In that way, your spirit will not grow weary before you have even begun to walk.”

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It has become our annual tradition to choose an inspiring quote. Our quotes are always from a book our club has read or from an inspirational person we have read about together. Last Friday, we completed our fifth annual quote banner.

This year, we chose a quote from Phillipians 4:13 which reads “For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”

We chose this quote since our faith has been instrumental in our charity, both in a sense that it has inspired many of our projects, and because many of our community partners are churches.

After taping the banner down on table so it would not slide as we worked, we began to transcribe the quote onto our banners in pencil, and trace the pencil in marker.

We chose to make the first letter of the quote an illuminated letter, since we learned how to make illuminated letters and manuscripts in preparation for teaching a medieval camp at the beginning of summer.illuminated%22f%22Our banners were enhanced with decorations such as a bookshelf with titles of books we have read together.booksonbanner.jpgOur team and our charity has grown significantly since we made our first quote banner. Each year we have continued this custom, and each year our banners inspire us to new heights. Only a few months after we began our book club in 2012, we had transformed into Wonderland BookSavers, and a few years after founding Wonderland BookSavers, we have transformed into a 501(c)(3), Wonderland BookSavers, Inc.

We look forward to another year of reading and donating books one hill, one valley, and one day at a time!4doingquote

Wonderland BookSavers Brings 1,000 Books to Boston

Written by Madeline

Last December, we traveled to Boston, bringing with us 2,000 books which we donated to the Reach Out and Read program at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children.

Pictures from our December donation in Boston

Every time a child visits the hospital, they are able to choose a book to keep and bring home with them.

On August ninth, we trekked back up to Boston with another 1,000 books to replenish the bookshelves at the hospital. When we arrived, we were greeted by community partners Zoe Barry, the founder and CEO of ZappRx; Reach Out and Read coordinator Marika Michelangelo; Anne Carroll from Tufts Floating hospital; and hospital and Reach Out and Read interns.

We unloaded boxes of books from our cars, placed the boxes on dollies, and carted the dollies through the hospital and into the elevators.

When the metal elevator doors opened, we guided the dollies through the hallway, and unloaded some of the boxes into the closet where extra books are kept for the hospital to refill their shelves with. Next, we brought our books over to the same bookshelves we filled last December. Almost all of the 2,000 books we had brought 9 months ago had been selected and taken home by children.

We opened our boxes of books which had already been sorted into three levels: pre-school through third grade, fourth to sixth grade, and middle/high school. We then stocked the books on the shelves in those respective categories and order.

The hospital and Reach Out and Read personnel briefly interviewed and questioned us about our project, and after our discussing our charity, we thanked everyone and departed.

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After leaving the hospital, we went to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, which is the second presidential library we have visited as a team. We explored the museum and archives.boston9

Our excursion to John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Library concluded our trip to Boston, but we will look forward to bringing more books to Boston in the near future.

Aid for Ecuador

by Brooks Morgan

In the summer of 2013, Wonderland BookSavers read A Long Walk for Water, by Linda Sue Park.

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This amazing book is a fictionalized account of the real-life story of a young boy, Salva, who is caught in the cross fire of the civil war in the Sudan. His happy childhood becomes a nightmare. As he matures to adolescence, Salva comes to realize that the search for clean water is a major cause of so much violence and unhappiness in his homeland.   As an adult, Salva traveled back to the Sudan, bringing the gift of clean water to his friends and enemies alike, thereby hoping to also bring the gift of peace to the warring villages.

 

The Wonderland BookSavers, being inspired by literature, recognized immediately the importance of clean water, not just in the Sudan, but also across many countries in the developing world. We decided to have a lemonade-stand style stand to raise funds and awareness. At the opening of a local public park, we hosted a Water 4 Water stand. We sold bottles of water for $2.00, and raised $150.00.

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We used this money to purchase 3 simple water purifiers. We gave these to a teenage friend who was traveling to Ecuador. Each water purifier was placed in a separate village, allowing for clean water for 3 villages!

 

This past April another teenage friend was traveling to Ecuador for a mission trip to Monte Sinai, located in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He asked for donations of T-shirts to share with the children in the Rostro de Cristo orphanage. As soon as we heard this request, we knew the Wonderland BookSavers could again step up to help children in Ecuador.

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Within a few days we were able to gather over 100 T-shirts. Reid and I washed and folded all the shirts. We were very happy to think of other children enjoying all our cheerful shirts!

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Unfortunately, just as our friend was visiting Ecuador, an enormous earthquake occurred! Our friend was safe, but sadly, many others were injured. Currently the Ecuadorian government is trying to encourage travelers to reconsider Ecuador as a viable vacation destination. The earthquake not only cost many people their lives but has also done great economic damage to the country.

Our prayers are with the beautiful people of Ecuador.

Lemonade for Literacy

by Madeline

This past week, Pequot Library held its annual book sale. Pequot Library’s annual book sale has been dubbed the biggest and the best book sale in New England.pequotbooksalesignFor the last four years, Wonderland BookSavers has run a “Lemonade for Literacy” stand during the book sale. The purpose of Lemonade for Literacy is to raise donations to purchase books from Pequot Library’s book sale, and then donate those books. The books we obtained this year via Lemonade for Literacy and Pequot Library’s book sale will be going to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Ghana. lemonadestand3To prepare our stand and concessions, we spruced up some of our old signs and banners and created some new signs with recent pictures of our service work so customers could see the children we serve.

Each night, we baked new batches of brownies, cookies, and rice crispy treats. Every morning before we went to the library, we made a new batch of homemade lemonade. We arrived at the library in the late morning each day to settle ourselves and set up our stand. We propped up a piece of plywood as a table on top of wooden crates, and then swept a yellow and white table cloth over our table. Next, we put our cooler filled with our ice cold lemonade to one side of our stand, and we arrayed our baked goods across the rest of the table. lemonadestand1Instead of having fixed prices on our commodities, we had all our goods priced by donation.

We ran our stand from about 11 AM to 4 PM each day of the book sale. We had many customers, but during the slower times of day, we passed time playing Apples to Apples, UNO, and reading books.

On the last day of the book sale, instead of running Lemonade for Literacy, we selected books from inside the expansive white tent, and then used our $212.50 that we raised through our lemonade stand to purchase 1,500 books.lemonadestand10Through our Lemonade for Literacy stand, we were able to benefit our longtime community partner Pequot Library while collecting books to donate to children in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.

 

Wonderland BookSavers Donates 15,000 Books to Zimbabwe and Ghana

By Madeline

On Thursday June 9, Team Wonderland BookSavers donated 15,000 books which are currently headed to Zimbabwe and Ghana. Along with the books, we also donated over 100 letters written by the children at the Wetherbee School in Massachusetts. These letters will be going to children in Zimbabwe.

We methodically sorted the books based on whether they were primary or secondary reading level. Then, we packed the sorted books into labeled boxes.

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Our community partner Mark Grashow, the president and co-founder of US Africa Children’s Fellowship, came with a tractor-trailer for us to fill with our books which will be delivered to Africa. When Mark arrived, we began loading our books into his truck.

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We carefully arranged the boxes to maximize the space and to ensure that the boxes were secure so the books would be safe.

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After we finished laboriously transporting the heavy boxes of books from our palettes in the garage into Mark’s truck, Mark pulled out some pictures from his trips to Africa. He showed us children holding our books, and also recounted some stories of the children’s excitement when they receive our books.

I had the chance to interview Mark:

We are excited for our books to arrive in Zimbabwe and Ghana, and we can’t wait to see pictures and hear more stories about the children receiving our books!

 

 

Wonderland BookSavers’ Haitian-Creole Books Arrived in Haiti on May 17

By Madeline

Early last fall, we met with our community partner Susy Whitcomb, President of Haitian Educational Initiatives. Susy brought us pictures and videos of the kids at their school with our books. We had previously donated many French books to Haiti, but upon meeting with Susy, we discovered that the children in Haiti speak Haitian-Creole–not French–as their first language.

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A Haitian child with one of our donated French books

The French books were helpful, but before the Haitian children could learn to read, they would have to learn French, a foreign language. Team Wonderland BookSavers decided that we wanted to get the Haitian children Haitian-Creole books so they could finally have books written in their native language.

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Haitian-Creole books

After collaborating with our community partner Zoe Barry, the founder and CEO of ZappRx, we were able to obtain funds to purchase $1,099 worth of Haitian-Creole books. Since Zoe was so generous in giving us the funds to purchase the Haitian-Creole books, we along with the ZappRx team donated 2,000 books to the Reach Out and Read program at Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston.

Throughout this project, we have united American children with Haitian children through our “poster pals” program. Poster pals are essentially pen pals, except we exchange and create banners with notes and drawings instead of just letters.

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Kids work on one of the poster pals we sent to Haiti

Wonderland BookSavers held a community event at the Barnum School where we helped the kids decorate a Sneetch machine after we read “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss. At that event, we read a Haitian-Creole book to the children at Barnum School, and let the kids create banners for the children in Haiti.

Soon, the children at Barnum School will get a poster pals banner from the children in Haiti. Our Haitian-Creole books and poster pals were scheduled to arrive in Haiti in February, but due to a political coup and violence in Haiti, our books and poster pals were delayed in being delivered until May. On May 17, the children in Haiti received the first books they have ever seen written in their native language, and posters and drawings from us and American children.

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children in Haiti holding our donated books

We are incredibly grateful to Susy Whitcomb and Zoe Barry for their assistance in this project. We are excited to see the children with their new books, and we are eagerly anticipating the poster pals which the Haitian children are sending back to America.

Title 1 School Donates Books to Zimbabwe

written by Brooks Morganpic 1.JPGToday, 5/9/16, we visited Emily G. Wetherbee school in Massachusetts. We are thrilled with their generosity. Francine, writing coach and head of community service said, “We’re trying to teach our students, here, to give to others. I work in a community where the kids get 100% free lunch and they get a lot of free services; it is a community of poverty and yet, we try to teach them that it doesn’t matter; you can still give to others. This is one way for students to share with other people.” Francine’s words reflect our mission, the greatest gift is giving.pic 2.JPGA 4th grade class helped us load the car with all the boxes that were donated. They were all very nice. Joshua was very good at carrying and organizing the boxes, Denise was so nice for holding the door open for those carrying boxes, otherwise we would have been locked out. Cameron, Adrian, Brady, Ninio, and Jose were very strong and able to carry the boxes to and into the car. Cameron, Joshua, Denise, Adrian, and Brady were also very good at answering some of our questions.pic 3

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Sombreros and sticky letters for the kids in Zimbabwe

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A letter one of the fourth graders wrote to the kids in Zimbabwe

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Some of the books donated to us by the Wetherbee School

After loading the car, I went inside and continued interviewing Francine. Francine spoke about the importance of giving to others, Alison, our team manager, said, “I think that’s so important, for kids who don’t have much to be able to give to other children. That’s one of the reasons that we started this letter writing campaign. We know it’s a way that kids can share with others, you can give a letter or a picture as a way to communicate. Francine added, “And I’ve read some of the letters and one or two of them almost made me cry because they’re saying something like ‘your new friend from America.’ At 4th grade, the kids are just so open, you know, they don’t know these people at all but they saw the video and saw what the situation was and thought oh, wow, we get to give them books!”pic 7Before we left, Francine wanted to give us more things to share with the children in Zimbabwe. She found a huge box of sticky foam letters and pictures and a huge stack of sombreros! We had a great time talking to the children and collecting the books. We hope to go back again if they want to collect some more books for us!pic 8

Written by Brooks Morgan