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Volunteer Highlight – Jessica Torres-Cano

By General, What's Happening

Volunteer Highlight

Since September of 2022, Jessica has logged almost 60 volunteer hours while working full-time for United Healthcare. She is a bundle of energy and shares her enthusiasm for books at our free book fairs.

BDK: Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, your family, work, hobbies? What is something your friends love about you?

Jessica: I live in Carrollton with my husband Felix. Between the both of us we have 5 young adults and 7 cats! I love spending time with family, watching movies (especially anything Star Wars), dancing, and of course, READING!

BDK: How did you find Book Drive for Kids?

Jessica: I found you through my company’s volunteer portal. When the company started a volunteer drive, I wanted to find a way to do my volunteer hours that fell in line with my love of reading, Book Drive for Kids was the perfect match!

BDK: What keeps you volunteering so regularly?

Jessica: I feel that reading is truly the key to a great future for anyone. Hearing a kid say that they don’t like to read and then helping them find a book that they get excited about gives me unmeasurable joy. I believe that deep down everyone is a reader, they just have to find that book that speaks to THEM!

BDK: What is one word that sums up a Book Drive for Kids’ free book fair?

Jessica: Inspiring.

BDK: Do you feel like you are making a difference?

Jessica: I really do! As a child, I remember being so very excited for the school book fair but knowing that I would not be able to get the books I wanted due to finances. Seeing every child walk away with a book from a Book Drive for Kids free book fair, no matter their family’s economic background, sets them and their families on a course of literary adventure.

BDK: What would you say to someone considering volunteering?

Jessica: DO NOT HESITATE! You may walk away tired but you will feel so privileged to be able to help those kids find out that reading for pleasure is a possibility!

Austin Highlight – Brooke Terry

By General, What's Happening

Volunteer Highlight

When Book Drive for Kids first began in 2017, Brooke Terry lived in Flower Mound with her husband and two boys. She was one of our very first volunteers. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Austin. Fast forward to 2021. We had friends who invited us to bring a free book fair to their small elementary school. Immediately, I thought of Brooke!

After that first event, Brooke wanted to be more involved with getting books into the hearts and homes of disadvantaged children, especially children in foster care.  She soon embarked on a volunteer position of Director of the Austin chapter of Book Drive for Kids.  In coming newsletters, we will keep you informed on what’s happening in Austin but first, we want you to meet the woman behind the scenes.

We caught up with Brooke and here’s what she has to say:

BDK:  Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live, your family, work, hobbies? What is something your friends love about you? 

Brooke: Thomas and I have been married for twenty years and have two boys. My hobbies are reading, bible study, hiking, and traveling. Historical fiction is my favorite genre. My friends would say that I am loyal and dependable.

BDK: Why did you originally get involved with Book Drive for Kids?

Brooke: I LOVE reading books and I want kids to LOVE reading books too.

BDK:  Volunteering to direct multiple events in another city is a pretty serious commitment! Can you tell us what motivates you?

Brooke: As I delved into the research, I discovered that many low-income families do not have any children’s books at home. The Literacy Project finds a stark disparity in book ownership between low-income families (1 book for every 300 children) and affluent families (13 books per child). This gap is a driving force behind our program. 

My passion is to give away fun and engaging books to children so that children fall in love with reading.

BDK: In a single word, how would you describe a Book Drive for Kids Free Book Fair? 

Brooke: Rewarding!

BDK: What is the greatest challenge for you here in Austin? 

Brooke: Time. There is never enough time to meet all the needs in our community.

#BetterTogether

By General, What's Happening

#BetterTogether

Barnes & Noble Christmas Book Drive – Frisco

First Free Book Fair with the State Fair of Texas Foundation at J.J.Rhoads Learning Center in Dallas

Journey to Dream’s Shop with a Cop

LovePacs November – Christmas distribution

Angel Tree – Vickery Elementary

Single Parent Advocate Christmas

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By General, What's Happening

These words serenade us as we hurriedly drive to Black Friday sales, school recitals, and holiday parties. They croon in our living rooms as we decorate our Christmas tree. We hum them in the midst of the baking, shopping, traffic, and crammed schedules. It’s easy to begin to wonder, Is it REALLY the most wonderful time of the year?

Yesterday, in the midst of back-to-back book fair events shepherding hundreds of children through tables filled with lovely books, it WAS the most wonderful time of year! I did not experience it in the perfect gift or decoration or even in the hustle and bustle of children dressed in holiday gear. I found it in a shared smile, a funny comment, a genuine question, and a moment of real listening to another.  These brief moments of shared humanity brought a genuine smile to my face. As the hurriedness was set aside, we entered a moment of “seeing” each other with full attention.  These simple interactions that lasted only 30 seconds filled my heart, making this the most wonderful time of the year.  

The Christmas season is my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, the baking, the songs, and the gift-giving; however, it is so easy to feel the stress and forget the actual purpose of all the activities. Christmas is a holy-day (holiday) to celebrate the greatest gift of all time, Jesus. He embraced humanity and regularly connected one-on-one to give the greatest gift – love. “We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:9) is a foundational principle of Book Drive for Kids. When we are tired, it is this truth that provides the “Why” to all our effort. We are rewarded in these simple exchanges of love – an excited whoop, a shy smile, or a warm heart.

 

May you experience a truly Wonderful Time of the Year!!

Michelle 

For more information about conducting your own book donation drive or volunteering with Book Drive for Kids, visit their website at HOME – Book Drive for Kids or email [email protected].

Volunteer Highlight – Donna Esposito

By General, What's Happening

Volunteer Highlight

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

 During the summer of 2020, as Donna Esposito was moving to Flower Mound, she came across an abundance of books her children had accumulated over the years.  With her kids grown and flown, Donna decided, “It’s time to sort and share!”  When she googled where to donate books in the area, Book Drive for Kids popped up. (We are so thankful!)  Soon we came by to pick up her donation of TEN BOXES of new and gently used books, and a relationship was born.  

Once Donna discovered our mission was to get books into the hearts and homes of disadvantaged children, she wanted to get involved.  She understood the importance of books and fostering the love of reading in children; she had encouraged these values in her own home.  Now she had the opportunity to do the same for children who did not have books readily available to them. 

Today Donna is a regular volunteer and supporter. Here’s what she has to say:

BDK: What keeps you volunteering so regularly?  

Donna: “I really enjoy volunteering! Seeing the happy, smiling faces of all the kids who are so excited to have a new book of their own is heartwarming!

BDK: What is one word that sums up a Book Drive for Kids free book fair?  

Donna:“Inspiring!”

BDK: Do you feel like you are making a difference? 

Donna: “I’d like to believe that I make a small impact by assisting with the book fairs with an encouraging and enthusiastic demeanor to share the joy that reading can bring.”

BDK: What would you say to someone considering volunteering with us?  

Donna:“Do it! Reading is so important to foster in children of all ages.”

Without the consistent, joyful help of volunteers, Book Drive for Kids would not have been able to give away over 50,000 books this past year. 

Thank you, Donna, for the servant’s heart you bring to Book Drive for Kids.  The smiles and love you share allows these children to know they are seen and valued.

Yes, Book Drive for Kids wants to get books to children in need, but more importantly, we want to share hope for a future full of potential and purpose. It’s because of volunteers like Donna that Book Drive for Kids continues to be invited to host free book fairs. Join Donna in helping change a child’s life, one book at a time.