I am often asked, “What do I do with the books I don’t want to move?” One option is to take your books to a used bookstore and make some money. With ISBN numbers in hand, you can also check out BookScouter to see how much money you might make selling your textbooks and used books online. If you prefer to donate your books, you can do so at your local library or at a Better World Books drop-off box. If you live in the Chicago area, you can donate your children’s book to Bernie’s Book Bank at one of their book drop locations, and you will help at-risk kids build a home library of their own.
Set your books free
I love the motto on the Better World Books website: “If you love your books, set them free.” It’s true. Think of those lonely, unread books gathering dust on your bookshelf instead of enjoying a new life somewhere else. I adore my books and have moved many of them around the country, but not every, single book brings me the same level of joy. However, the books I no longer want or need can make someone else smile.
Photo provided by Bernie’s Book Bank.
Your books can help others
Let’s take Bernie’s Book Bank, for example. Brian Floriani started the non-profit because he believes that books and reading are the path to a better life, and he wanted to help at-risk children. What Brian didn’t know was how his mission would affect so many different people’s lives.
In the early days of the organization, Brian drove with the new hire, Mark, to distribute books at a Chicago area school. Mark and Brian arrive at the school early, and they wait for the kids to finish recess. Mark doesn’t say much in the truck as he looks down at his Harley ring. Then, 50 kids drop their footballs and jump ropes. The kids sprint towards them. They shake the fence like they’re at a European soccer match and they start chanting in unison, “Bernie’s Book Bank! Bernie’s Book Bank!” Mark and Brian smile, and they hand out books to the kids.
“When you distribute the books, it’s like you’re Elvis. Children come up to you and give you hugs and they thank you. They ask, ‘Can I have your autograph?’” says Floriani. “If you want to know what it feels like to be a celebrity, that’s what it’s like.”
Photo provided by Bernie’s Book Bank
On the ride back to Bernie’s, Brian turns to Mark, “What’d you think of that?” Mark is even quieter now than he was on the ride to the school. He hesitates and then looks at Brian, “I thought I was just getting a job and this is way more than a job. This is incredible.” Years later, Mark remains involved with Bernie’s Book Bank. “He’s still part of this family,” says Floriani. “Mark saw how our important our mission was. Literacy is something that has to be solved. We need to make the investment in education.”
Bernie’s Book Bank helps instill a love for books and reading
Brian Floriani is the heart behind Bernie’s Book Bank. When his dad and grandmother died on the same day and Brian eulogized them both, it made Brian think, “What will my eulogy be? Will I be significant?” Brian questioned his work as a golf pro. He wanted to be an elementary school teacher, so he left the golf course and become a paraprofessional in the Zion school system. That’s when he saw the inequity in education.
“It was glaring how poor the education was in Zion compared to Lake Forest,” Floriani says. “Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, but Zion students were far behind when they started school.” The children were eager to learn and be reading ready, but they were already behind. Floriani saw how important literacy was and he wanted to do something about it. Starting in his garage, Floriani collected books to distribute to low-income children throughout Chicagoland. Today, ten years later, Bernie’s Book Bank has distributed over 15. 8 million books to at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children.
Photo provided by Bernie’s Book Bank
45,000 volunteers help every year at Bernie’s Book Bank
My family and I have volunteered at Bernie’s Book Bank countless times, and it is one of the best places in Chicago to volunteer with kids. You’re surrounded by books, working hard to organize book bags, and helping children build a library of their own. What’s not to love? Kids of all ages can help sort, sticker, and organize books. Over 45,000 volunteers help annually at Bernie’s, so I’m not the only one who thinks it’s awesome. Also, if you are new to the area, volunteering is a great way to meet other people. If you want to sign up for a volunteer session, visit the Bernie’s website here.
Finding inspiration from Move for Hunger
One day over coffee my friend, Maria, and I were talking about Move for Hunger. Move for Hunger works with moving companies to collect non-perishable food items that will be delivered to local food banks. Instead of movers throwing canned goods into the trash on moving day, Move for Hunger makes sure that food goes to someone who needs it. Since Adam Lowy started Move for Hunger in 2009, they’ve collected over 14 million pounds of food. No more food waste. No additional cost for moving unwanted items. Everyone wins. So, Maria and I thought, “What if we could do the same thing with children’s books?”
How you can help when you move
Ace Relocation Systems is the first moving company to be part of the Bernie’s Book Bank moving program. If you move with Ace, just place a sticker on the box filled with the children’s books you no longer need. Ace will get it to Bernie’s Book Bank and it will end up in the hands of kids who are waiting at the fence, chanting for their new books to arrive. Everyone wins.
If you are a professional mover and you would like to be part of the Bernie’s Book Bank moving program, please contact me at ali @ artofhappymoving.com. Think of all the happy kids enjoying their new books.
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