kids helping kids

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.

Hurricane Harvey: One Ton of Support for Houston by Emma

Hurricane Harvey decimated much of Houston and surrounding areas this past August.

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Although many communities are now fully functioning, there are those that are still suffering. With close ties to the Houston community, we felt that it was incumbent upon Wonderland BookSavers to reach out and provide assistance.

When residing in Houston, we attend The Woodlands United Methodist Church. This church became a central collection and distribution point, providing needed items for people who were suddenly homeless.

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People collected and donated all the materials others needed, and then the ones affected by the hurricane would come in and “shop” for whatever they needed.   We felt so distant, being in Connecticut, so we decided to reach out to our community and collect supplies and books to ship to Houston.

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Despite the fact that it is now November, we have heard that there are schools that remain closed, schools that have lost their entire libraries due to flooding. These schools reached out to us and were very eager for us to send them 1,000’s of books to jumpstart their collections. Additionally, as we searched for shipping and trucking options, we found districts whose children were still in need of basic home goods to replace lost items.

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WBS member Ella attends St. Thomas School, and they generously put a gigantic bin in their hallway to collect cleaning supplies, clothes, bedding, canned food, pet food, and books. We were incredibly grateful for this thoughtful gesture.   We have partnered with St. Thomas in the past, as they have given us books and shoes. My sister says that St. Thomas is the kindest school in America, and I can definitely see why that is true.  After several weeks, our bin was overflowing with donations from all the children, families, and teachers.

The children from St. Thomas also made hundreds of thoughtful, kind, and supportive letters to deliver to the victims of the hurricane.

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It was so sweet reading these letters, and knowing that someone across the country will feel loved.

After collecting the supplies and the letters, we packed everything up into our car (the supplies were nearly overflowing!)

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Next, we brought everything to our garage…

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and employed eager Boy Scouts from our community, who helped box the supplies, weigh the boxes, and stack them.

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We were so touched by St. Thomas’ and our community’s joy in helping complete strangers on the other side of the country.

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One more Road Trip: Montgomery County, New Jersey, en route to Houston!

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We partnered with Operation Friends Again, a New Jersey organization, that is sending a tractor-trailer filled with gift boxes specifically for children displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

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Almost there…434.5 pounds to go!

Once we weighed all our boxes, over 2,000 lbs., or ONE TON!, they said they would be happy to bring our boxes and letters, with them, down to Houston.

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The supplies from St. Thomas and our books are being packed up in a truck this week. Then they will begin their 1,600-mile journey and will finally reach their destination.  We hope to receive pictures of the recipients of these items in order to share in their happiness.

(Y)Our Books Arrive: Ghana & South Africa!

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“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.” e.e.cummings

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In this case, it is our books that we have found, resurfacing after their long journey at sea.

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Many of you will remember that all summer and fall we packed and sorted thousands of books, ultimately sending 15,000 beautiful children’s books to both Ghana and South Africa.

img_6111These books have a long journey, spending several weeks in metal containers before finally being loaded onto the ships that will carry them across the ocean and to the African continent. From there they must make it through customs and be loaded onto trucks and bump along through towns and villages until they finally reach their intended destination: children who love to read!img_1465

We are so excited to receive some photos of children enjoying these books! It is so much fun to realize that although these children are so very far away, in another sense, we are really all part of one world, enjoying the same stories and jokes and learning about the world from the same books.wbs-african-children-5Today we are truly able to say that we are fulfilling our mission,

“Helping children realize the magical awesomeness of reading!”wbs-african-children-2

Please continue donating children’s books! We have recently received an urgent request from some  parentless children in Kenya who would love some new books. We are working to gather books and help with shipping costs so these children too can enjoy imaginary tales and learn from science and history books.

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With your help we can continue to improve global literacy, at home and around the world. Many thanks, always! The Wonderland BookSavers!