United Way helps get tens of thousands of books in the hands of local youth each year – the problem is, they have no available space to intake and sort the donations.
Enter System Dynamics International. The defense contractor agreed to allow United Way to use two empty office spaces at their facility for processing book donations.
"Together we can do more," says Cathy Miller, United Way Community Impact Director.
"We can't house those books," explains United Way President Wendy Kirk, "we have nowhere to store them temporarily so they can be sorted effectively to go out to those different partners who desperately need to put these books in the hands of those children."
Over the past few years, United Way continued to collect more and more books through local community book drives hosted by schools, faith communities, and civic and community organizations - a total of more than 15,000 since 2011. At the same time, space at the United Way building was at a premium and there simply was not enough room for the books. The community came to the rescue.
Patty Popour, President of GARIN Solutions, heard about the need for space and connected System Dynamics and United Way. Within weeks, the details were worked out, and in October 2013, office space was transformed from unused ordinary space into working processing centers for donated books.
Cathy Miller explains: “Books come in through community book drives conducted in the community. Screened and trained volunteers weekly process the books and get them ready for the children. Many contributors, throughout this process, including this essential community partner, share our passion and dedication to making a difference in the lives of children.
Recipient programs include:
- The ARC of Madison County
- Big Brothers/Big Sisters of North AL
- Boys and Girls Clubs of North AL
- The Care Center in New Hope
- Catholic Center for Concern
- Christmas Charities Year Round
- Crisis Services of North AL
- Family Services Center
- Girl Scouts
- Girls, Inc
- Harris Home for Children
- Heals Community Clinics
- Hospice Family Care
- Manna House
- The National Children’s Advocacy Center
- North AL Medical Reserve Corp
- Reach out and Read
- Salvation Army
- United Way’s Fun Learning Moments® program
- Village of Promise
- The Heart of the Valley YMCA Preschools and the Free2Teach store.
“Reading is a key to learning and the more children who have exposure to books and adults to read to them, the stronger the likelihood those children will be successful in school and in life. That’s one example of United Way’s work in our community, connecting resources to those that need them, to improve self-sufficiency, education, and healthy lifestyles, to grow a stronger community," says Miller.
Civic organizations, clubs, nonprofits, schools, or friendly community groups who wish to conduct a community book drive to benefit United Way may call 256-536-0745, or email FLM@uwhsv.org.