Millions of books are donated to Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia every year (that’s just our region alone!) While many of those are sold or recycled, that still leaves a wealth of literature left to manage. Enter Goodwill’s Books for Kids program.
Started in 2017, Goodwill recognized the gap in funding and available books faced by most teachers and librarians in schools. Goodwill began partnering with local public schools, inviting educators to come in and ‘dig for books’ to take what met their students’ needs.
Goodwill’s Books for Kids program has achievements include:
- Giving away more than 400,000 free donated books
- Goodwill has been awarded ‘Best Partnership’ for our work with Henrico County Schools by the National Association of Counties
- Goodwill has become the main source of books for Curtis Elementary School’s free ‘book vending machine’
- The program was awarded Best in Show Winner by the Virginia Recycling Association
Partnering through the Pandemic – Beyond Donated Books
When schools began to shut down in March 2020, Goodwill put the word out for educators to come in and pick up as many free books as they could carry – hundreds of donated books were given away. This partnership helped students build their personal libraries at the start of the COVID-19 lock down.
Goodwill’s partnership with local schools continued through the pandemic. Recently, we spoke with Kristin Thrower, librarian at Meadowbrook High School, and Lisa Signorelli, reading specialist for Falling Creek Middle School, to learn how their unique partnership, supported by books from Goodwill, helped reach students in need over the last 2 years.
The Book Mobile – “Book Ladies of the Creek”
Kristin and Lisa were old teaching friends who hadn’t seen each other in eight years when they ran into each other at Goodwill picking up free books. The women were working hard to keep their students connected to reading, going so far as to drive books to their students’ homes. Kristin and Lisa’s unique partnership started the “Book Ladies of the Creek” Bookmobile (inspired by The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson) allowing them to go into local communities and bring resources to families.
Watch the video below to hear the entire inspiring story and learn more about the impact of Goodwill’s Books for Kids program.
“When you go to Goodwill you can’t go in with any expectations other than you’re going on an adventure and you will find a prize for a student… you will find a book that will make a child extremely happy. It is like Christmas. I love going to Goodwill.” – Kristin Thrower, librarian at Meadowbrook High School
Goodwill is much more than a thrift store. As a non-profit social enterprise, our operations fund services that aim to support workforce development and help people in our communities’ overcome barriers to employment. Barriers can include:
- Low Income Individuals
- Individuals with Disabilities
- Homeless Individuals
- Foster Care Youth
- Single Parents
- English Language Learners
- Individuals Exiting TANF Supports
- Individuals Lacking Formal Education and Literacy
- Long-term Unemployed Individuals
“Anyone that donated to Goodwill, they have to understand that they are helping someone’s life. Whether it’s helping them learn to read, helping their parents learn English, those books are instrumental in the lives of our students.” – Kristin Thrower, librarian at Meadowbrook High School
Your donated books and other kind donation help fund our mission services, and help Goodwill support our community partners. Thank you for supporting Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia and know that the items you gift us go much further than you know!
Goodwill makes it easy for you to donate with many convenient locations (link to location finder) throughout central and coastal Virginia. We also partner with local organizations and municipalities to host donation and recycling events year-round. Click here to see our upcoming events calendar (link to events calendar).
How Teachers Can Partner with Goodwill
Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia welcomes all local public schools to inquire about joining our free Books for Kids program. To find out more, please contact Tammy McCain in central Virginia or Roger Fournier in coastal Virginia.
- Volunteers select from excess donated books stored at Goodwill’s Richmond and Hampton support centers.
- Volunteers looking to select books for kids must make an appointment with our community engagement team first.
- Limited to five volunteers at one time (due to COVID-19 safety precautions).
- Books are free to regional public schools. Teachers and school librarians can use books for however best fits their students’ needs.
- Books are unsorted and stored by the hundreds! Many are brand new or in like-new condition.
Click here to learn more – Books for Kids