Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Book Drive, and Bookmarks, and Books-- oh my!

It's funny how time wraps around in swirly twirly loops. This time it brought me back around to Niki. Niki and I met when we were about 9 or 10 years old doing musical theatre, and we bumped into each other again just last year with mutual friends in the LA music scene. She's found a calling committing poetry shenanigans in public places, bookbinding her own works, writing poems for strangers, and volunteering in classrooms as a visiting poet. (I stole that from the website. She's the poet, not me.) She also started a literary and art initiative called Poetry Solves Problems with her dear friend Crystal. The group is a celebration of sorts and this time, on their 6th PSP night, they opened their arms to it's the little things (ITLT).
Crystal, Niki, and me at PSP#6

Niki had joined me for a Letters of Love craft night and wanted to find some way to collaborate as we are both, in titles, trying to solve problems by making a difference. ITLT focuses on anywhere/every day projects, but Niki asked if we could highlight a specific local organization. This was changing the game very early on in my own operation but I was excited for the challenge! The goal: to build awareness of literacy/illiteracy and emphasize the important of books and creative storytelling in young minds. Thus, the research began! After much browsing and inquiring within, I decided that we would highlight BookEnds, a SoCal non-profit that recycles children's books donated from book drives and places them in schools and youth organizations in need of books. By providing access to books, BookEnds gives children the resources to develop literacy skills and to experience the joy and imagination of reading. Perfect, that's exactly what we wanted! Established in 1998 by an eight year-old boy, BookEnds has donated more than two million books to engage 500,000 students in the joy and imagination of reading. Incredible!

Out of the blue, I called and happened to be speaking with Matt, the Director of Programs. (Mind you, BookEnds is a small four-employee company, but they make such a difference!) Matt emailed me a "Champion's Packet" which basically included guidelines for running a book drive, grade level book categories, the quality of acceptable books, and statistical facts. This information was wildly helpful in organizing our own book drive which we circulated via social media in the weeks leading up to the drive. At the event, we ALSO offered a unique ITLT *creative acts of kindness* opportunity. Upstairs, above the open mic and poetry/musical features, I set up a craft table complete with stamps, stickers, glitter, washi tape, markers, and colored pencils for people to create BOOKMARKS! A little way for our contributors to personally (and literally) put their stamp on why reading is so important, a little encouragement for continuing what may be a difficult book to read, a little love to the stranger opening their new book for the first time.

Craft supplies galore! 
Inspiration hangs from twine by gold glitter clothespins (obviously).

That night, the good people of PSP crafted 53 bookmarks and donated 36 books, totaling 50 books that we are now able to donate to BookEnds. 

Some hits included TitaniCat, the Bernstein Bears, and
(my personal 3rd grade favorite)
A Wrinkle in Time!

 The full photo album can be viewed HERE and on the Gallery page, but take a look at the fun we had that night! Thank you so much to everyone who participated!!

Making bookmarks is a GREAT way to supplement a book donation. Pre-made packets of bookmarks are sold at education supply stores (35 for less that $3) so this is an AWESOME activity to do with a classroom or a group. Find some inspiration quotes or whip up your own witty sayings, and get creative! Try to stick to flat materials (washi tape, stickers, glitter, etc) and avoid 3D ones (foam stickers, thick string, buttons, etc.) so the bookmarks can lie flat without indenting the books. Also, it might be a good idea to laminate your bookmark so keep it in tip-top shape! 
it's the little things will mail YOU a*FREE* BOOKMARK!

Email us with your full name and mailing address.
You will be sent one white bookmark, unless more or colors are requested-- 
I will do my best to accommodate!  |  Subject title: ITLT Bookmark