samathablogpostFrom time to time, we will present different voices on the IMPACT of our mission  – from the volunteers who help us to the teachers who receive donations of books for their kids.  We first met Samantha Young about a year ago.  She is a dedicated teacher in a Newark Elementary school who collected her 3rd donation of books for her students just before Christmas.  Here are her thoughts on being able to secure donations from us and provide books to her students to keep and call their own:

Over the past year, Bridge of Books has made three extremely generous donations to our school. As a teacher in a high-poverty area, I witness firsthand my students going without – without proper clothing, without proper food, and without proper exposure to the world around them. Bridge of Books has made it their mission to ensure every child has access to books. It is through reading my students can gain information, make connections with people and places, and experience the wondrous effect of writing from one’s imagination. More than that, Bridge of Books has given my students a true sense that someone “out there” cares. When I open the boxes of donations, I see books of all interests and reading levels in magnificent condition! Every time, my students are in awe. ‘This is exactly what I wanted!’ ‘This is the book my friend has!’

I also use these times as an opportunity to teach gratitude. I don’t allow my student to subscribe to the sometimes misused notion of charity. That, to me, implies a one-way action. While they are receiving something, my students also have an obligation. They need to show appreciation and give thanks. It is simply the right thing to do. Early exposure to this concept will ensure my students grow into compassionate, responsible adults. Now, when they receive anything, their first response is ‘Who should we be thanking?’ My students take it upon themselves to craft neat, carefully worded ‘Thank You’ cards after each donation. This is mostly because Bridge of Books has developed a relationship with our school – keeping in contact throughout the year to ask how we are doing. I always relay this to my students and the connection they have made with the organization is so much richer because of it. Bridge of Books is not only helping my students become lifelong readers, this foundation is helping them mature into good people.

I do my best model appreciation and kindness by spending time volunteering at Bridge of Books. It means a great deal to me to help an organization that has had such an immense impact on my classroom and my school. When I volunteer, it is abundantly clear Bridge of Books is a group effort. I have met many friendly employees and volunteers, all with the same unified goal. As parents, educators and family members, we have a collective responsibility to ensure ALL children – not just those in our lives – are afforded every opportunity possible. I truly believe Bridge of Books is doing that good work, one chapter – or school – at a time.