Books – The problem

Many children in our community are starting school at a serious disadvantage. From the very beginning, through no fault of their own, they have not had the exposure to literary opportunities that more advantaged children have. This effect can be as startling as the availability of 1 book title for every 3 children in more affluent areas of town, versus 1 book title for every 300 children in other areas of the same city. Libraries are one very important resource for these children, but accessibility depends on factors like transportation, which is sometimes a difficult feat. (Susan B. Neuman, Changing the Odds for Children at Risk, Praeger Publishers, 2009)

Children that grow up in homes with many books get three years more schooling than children without books. This is independent of the parent’s education, occupation or class. As few as ten books makes a difference, and the difference is more pronounced among families with fewer books. (Evans, M. D. R., et al. Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 2010)

When they begin kindergarten, children from the highest socioeconomic groups have been read to 1,000 hours. Children from the lowest – just 25 hours. (Susan Neuman, 2003)

The average estimate of ALL American children living in poverty is 20.8% (Susan Neuman, 2009). During the 2010-2011 school year, nearly 88% of students in Unified School District 500 in Kansas City, KS were eligible for free or reduced lunches (Wyandotte County Community Needs Assessment, United Way of Wyandotte County, 2011). This is OUR community, OUR problem.

H2H’s solution

Hands to Hearts collects new and gently used books to send home with the children, put in distribution in their school libraries and eventually to outfit a book mobile. Book drives are scheduled intermittently with schools, churches, scout troops, etc. Book donation boxes are placed in participating businesses. In addition we accept donations at our packing site on an ongoing basis.

At the end of the 2011 school year we invited partner schools to send us grade level counts for their students. H2H sent books home to each BackSnack student in every school that requested books. During the summer school program, we invited each of the 150 children in Silver City Elementary to select a free book each week, and provided incentives and prizes for each child who filled out a simple “My Book” form and returned it. The next goal – a dedicated bookmobile. We believe the new and gently used books we have collected – and are still collecting – can continue to grow to increasingly have an impact on long-term quality of life for these children.

What can I do to help?

Your book donation can have a very real imact on a child’s life. Encourage these young children to read, and provide them with something to call their own.

  • Go through your children’s outgrown books and share those they no longer use
  • Ask friends and neighbors to help with our cause
  • Volunteer to help with the book drive. Or, better yet, do your own with your neighbors, schools, organizations.
  • Do you or does someone you know own a business which would allow us to put up info about Hands to Hearts and the book drive? Would they be willing to be a drop off location for a few weeks?
  • Help sort and distribute donations.

This is our community, our children. We can make a difference.

The book drive

Book donations can be dropped off at 9130 Flint, Overland Park, KS, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm or during pack times.

How you can help with the book drive?

  • Contacting local businesses for donations and or participating in the book drive
  • Sorting through and organizing the books that are donated
  • Picking up books from selected drop locations
  • Collecting books from your friends and neighbors (adult and children books) or organizations (scouts, teams, Sunday school classes, etc.)
  • Do you go to garage sales? Take a form with you asking people to donate their left over books and clothing to H2H. All donations are tax deductible. Click here for the request slip.
  • Volunteer to work on the Bookmobile.

Have questions about books? Contact Marilyn at books@handstoheartskc.org