First Book Friday: “500,000 books? Bring it on!”

Today’s guest blog post is from Anna Taleysnik-Mehta, Operations Manager for the First Book National Book Bank, who believes that world peace can be achieved one box of books at a time, and does her small part by coordinating large scale distributions around the United States.

…And with those words, the First Book National Book Bank’s Los Angeles area book distribution was born! Dr. Martha Bernadett, Founder and CEO of The Molina Foundation, and Kellie Cairns, the dynamo in charge of Molina’’s literacy program Book Buddies and the Chair of the First Book South Bay Advisory Board, have never shied away from a challenge and opening the doors of their warehouse in Torrance, California to First Book was no different.

First Book has a strong network of partners, friends and recipients in the Los Angeles area, so it came as no surprise that the distribution set a First Book all-time record for the most groups picking up books locally. Over 120 programs from around Los Angeles came to the warehouse last week to pick up books! Teachers, most already on their summer break, taking the time out to make the trip, program administrators, and volunteers brought U-Hauls, tiny sedans and everything in between to pick up over 250,000 books for the children they serve. In addition to loading up all those vehicles, the Book Bank team, along with a crew of volunteers from Disney, Molina Healthcare, the First Book South Bay Advisory Board, Boys and Girls Club of Carson, Torrance Volunteer Center, Boy and Girl Scouts and local high schools and community members filled up 5 tractor trailers with over 5,000 boxes of books that then shipped to programs working with children all over the United States.
Each Book Bank distribution is full of amazing moments and Los Angeles was no exception. We met Sarah Soriano from Young Horizons Child Development Centers, who did a dance when she saw the 5,000 books waiting for her. We met a crew of Disney VoluntEARS, many of whom drew, designed and published the very books that were being distributed, and who were beyond excited to load up those cars. But perhaps our favorite experience was the pirate-themed party Book Buddies threw for some amazing second graders with some of the books we distributed out that week. The Book Bank team rarely sees the kids who get the books we bring to their communities, so the party was a special treat for us all. A week in a warehouse can be exhausting, but we all had a ton of energy for the pirate games at the party, and huge grins on our faces as we handed out the books to the kids. By the time we wrapped up our trip to Los Angeles, knowing that 500,000 books were in the hands of kids who needed them the most was really the most amazing moment of all.