At the recent Summit in Botswana, Board Members and volunteers from the US saw firsthand that our libraries are thriving, and the teacher librarians have a great deal to teach each other and us.
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Mike Gottfried led his first book drive in 2009 as a freshman at Penn State. When his professor learned from a former student in the Peace Corps that children in Africa have few books, his professor put together a team to organize that first book drive, and Mike joined the team.
“As I reached out to my hometown and books came in," Mike said, “I realized I had too many books and needed to organize my own drive out of my home town in Roxbury, New Jersey as well.” He led book drives three of the four years he was at Penn State, collecting books there and in his home town.
After college, he returned to Roxbury where he teaches high school Earth Science and Physics. As an advisor to the Key Club, he works with club members to conduct book drives.
In his years as a book drive organizer, Mike has collected 90,000 books and created 68.5 libraries. “It’s a lot easier than it seems. People are eager to help.”
While many book drive organizers know that rural schools in Africa are starved for books, Amie Breed has had first-hand experiences that led her to become a book drive organizer.
She is married to a South African, and her son, now in middle school, studied in South Africa for six months. He saw the difficulty students had in accessing books. Her sister is married to a man from Uganda, where it is also hard for students to get books.
The family has helped her son’s South African school in a number of ways. When the director of the school could not get books through Amazon, the family ordered some from the U.S. to send to the school. And when Amie asked her son, “What do you want for Christmas,” his response was that he wanted to give presents to the other children in his school—chicken feed, money or books.
Once Amie learned about ALP’s work, she decided to do even more-- a book drive for a library in Malawi with her two sons, one in middle school and Morgan, her first grader.
Book drive organizers looking for creative strategies to raise funds for shipping and mailing may not think that ugly sweaters could be much help, but Tanvi Hathiramani found that Ugly Holiday Sweater Day was a successful way to raise money for a 2016 book drive at the Greater Miami Academy High School
“For a fund-raiser,” she said, “we held an ugly sweater day. Students who wanted to wear an ugly holiday sweater to school that day had to buy a $3 ticket. Not only did Ugly Holiday Sweater Day raise money for shipping the books to Africa, but it also prompted holiday spirit at the school. It was fun!”