Every year, Oblong Books "adopts" several local classrooms of underprivileged kids and makes sure that each of them get new books for the holidays. In many cases, these are kids who have never had books of their very own, let alone NEW ones chosen just for them -- so we try very hard to be sure that they are getting things they will really love, and that will be the right level for them. We set up a Book Angel Tree. Each star stands for a specific kid, with their grade level and interests listed. Lots of neighborhood families will come in and pick a star to shop for. It's a great tradition.
So we'd gotten maybe half the kids sorted this year. Still a fairly long way to go, a full trees-worth of stars. I have no doubt that we would have gotten them all eventually, but the project ends on Sunday, so this afternoon I decided to take a picture of the tree and tweet about the project, to remind local people to come in and pick a star, or call and donate to the cause. And... something amazing happened.
Within minutes of my twitter post, the phone had rung with enough donations to get brand-new books for six kids. Then ten. Then twenty. In about two hours, we completed the entire tree! That is THREE classrooms full of needy kids in the Hudson Valley - 75 kids in all - who will each have two to three* brand-new, specially chosen for them, totally awesome books each to unwrap this holiday.
Donations were coming from California and Idaho and Canada and Arkansas, as well as closer to home. I'm not gonna lie - it made me teary.
And guess what? People are STILL asking how they can help.
While our Book Angel project is complete for the year (well all except the wrapping, anyway!), there are still many kids in this country (and probably in your own neighborhood) who have never had a book of their own. And Christmas would be a great time for that to change. Something like 42% of families live in poverty (a number that is on the rise). And according to RIF, two-thirds of those families have NO books at home. If you didn't get the chance to be a Book Angel through our bookstore this year, please consider a donation to First Book or Reading is Fundamental.
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated or helped spread the word. And HAPPY HOLIDAYS! xoxo
*For novel-length books, we chose two books per kid - for those who are still on those very thin early readers or 8x8 picture books, we chose three