It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a year since Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma struck the Gulf Coast. I’m sure that in the next couple of weeks all of the news programs will begin their coverage of the anniversary of the storms and show what progress has (or hasn’t) been made in the communities ravaged by the storms. I’m going to get to see the region myself for the first time the week of August 28th when I head down to Hattiesburg, MS for our next Book Relief distribution.
Book Relief has been amazing. I’m a pretty new member of the First Book team so I wasn’t here when it launched last fall, but I’ve quickly gotten caught up in the energy and excitement of it all. It seems astounding to me that we’ve distributed nearly 3 million books in just 12 months to kids, families and communities throughout the region. Two million more and we’ll have reached our goal of 5 million books!
The Hattiesburg distribution is significant because it happens during the week of the one-year anniversary of Katrina. I’ve seen the reports and read the articles about the challenges many in the region are still facing one year later — communities still in unbelievable states of destruction, families without safe places to live and children without schools. There are also stories of hope, and I hope the news programs and newspapers capture those as well — including Book Relief. As the PR person for First Book, I’ll be working not only to distribute books in Hattiesburg but also to get the media to tell the world about the work we’re doing to put books into kids’ hands and into schools, libraries, and literacy programs all over the area.
If you want to know how you can help spread the word about Book Relief, I’ve got just the ticket…write a letter to the editor of your hometown paper and tell them about what First Book is doing and about the importance of returning the gift of reading to children in the Gulf Coast. We still have two million more books to get down there, and we need help to make it happen.