The Maryland Book Bank will hold their annual Books for Kids Day, a large-scale book donation event, on Saturday, May 4, 2019. The all-day event will take place at the Book Bank’s new warehouse space, located at 1794 Union Avenue in Woodberry.
“We hope to collect about 30,000 books,” said Mark Feiring, the Maryland Book Bank’s executive director. “We’ll have roughly a total of 100 volunteers that will be here throughout the course of the day, and they’ll help us sort out thousands of books.” The donation period will run from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., but Feiring emphasized that the Book Bank accepts donations 24 hours per day, every day.
The Book Bank will also be offering tours of its new warehouse on Books for Kids Day. The new space, Feiring said, has been beneficial to their mission..
“The new warehouse has allowed us to bring in more,” he said. “Because of that, we’ve been able to get out more.” Until last year, the Book Bank operated out of the Baltimore Sun’s building and held their annual book drive event elsewhere.
Books for Kids Day has been happening for over twenty years in Baltimore City. Born out of an adult literacy program called Baltimore Reads, it gradually developed into a youth-focused initiative. The Book Bank accepts all books regardless of genre or reading level, and funds their operation in part by selling the adult-oriented books online.
“This past year we distributed 376,000 books to schools, organizations, and families throughout the entire state with a focus on the city,” Feiring said. “Over 800 organizations and schools have gotten books from us, and we’ve served 70,000 children.”
The Book Bank connects children with books in a variety of ways. During visits to the warehouse, children are allowed to take as many books as they can physically carry, while adults are permitted to take up to 25. However, memberships are also available for individuals and organizations who want more books on a monthly basis.
“We really try to make it as easy as possible for people to get the books that they require for their programs, mainly because in Baltimore City there’s a serious lag in the supply of books to children,” said Feiring. “Any kid growing up in a home with at least 20 books are going to get at least three more years of school under their belt than the average child.”
“There have been significant studies showing that having books in the home makes a huge difference,” he added.
The Book Bank also has a Bookmobile, funded by a partnership with the Baltimore Ravens, that brings books directly to schoolchildren around the city. “The kids can come and take whatever they want. If they’re choosing a book, they certainly are more apt to read it,” said Feiring. “We’ve distributed close to 100,000 books off that Bookmobile. We’re hoping to get a second one soon.”
In addition to the services it provides to children, the Maryland Book Bank also functions as a social enterprise. In a partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, it provides job training and working opportunities in areas such as inventory and shipping management to unemployed individuals. “We’re able to provide some skills that they can then use at just about any warehouse,” Feiring said.
Individuals interested in getting involved with the donation efforts on Books for Kids Day should visit the Maryland Book Bank’s website for more information. They do not accept magazines or literary journals as donations, but any book on any topic, hardcover or paperback, is welcome.
“This isn’t a one-day thing where we just stop after this,” Feiring says. Instead, the event marks a moment of reflection and celebration of the efforts behind the Book Bank’s ongoing mission.
“This is really a celebration of what we do and our volunteers, and bringing everyone together just for a day of working and seeing the results of what we do,” said Feiring. “Everyone that’s there is excited about reading and they’re excited about helping people… it’s just a lot of fun and there’s a lot of great energy.”