by Ginger Young, Founder and Executive Director
Five years ago next week, I sat on the floor of my garage, rummaging through a torn grocery bag full of used children’s books. The Hardy Boys, Charlotte’s Web, Freight Train, Curious George — there were lots of familiar titles. Just a glance at the covers triggered warm memories.
Some trusting soul had gathered these books from shelves at home and brought them to me, taking me seriously when I said that any books that came in would go home with local kids who need books. My idea was untested, and talk is cheap. And yet they believed enough to part with a bag of memory-filled books.
Despite this vote of confidence, I wondered if these books would find a home with local kids, would be loved by new owners. I was riddled with doubt, but I was also cognizant of the commitment I had made to do right by the books that were donated. And so I set out to establish a shelf of free books at a location where kids likely to need books go.
Book Harvest’s very first “free book” shelf was launched at the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service in Carrboro. The wonderful folks there welcomed me and the books with open arms from that very first day — and they continue to embrace us today.
How far have we come since that initial, tentative foray into new waters?
This — 355,745 — is the number of books that our kids have harvested since that time! In 2015 alone, we sent 109,707 books home with proud new owners.
And that starter bookshelf at IFC? To this day it is one of our highest-traffic sites. Since 2011, we have sent 30,021 books home with IFC clients and their children!
That crazy idea of five years ago? It’s working! And I am so grateful to our community for getting behind this simple idea of books for kids who need them. We have a long way to go before every child goes to sleep at night with a big stack of books next to their bed — but we’ll get there!
Stay tuned for a great 2016, where our kids’ imaginations soar and their intellects sizzle. Happy New Year!