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(914) Cares Donates More Than 1,000 Books to BCSD Elementary Schools
On a sunny fall morning, (914) Cares Chief Operating Officer Lauren Schwarzfeld pulled up to Mount Kisco Elementary School with a car full of books. Schwarzfeld was delivering one of two donations to Bedford Central School District from the nonprofit to benefit the district’s Literacy Library campaign.
“The purpose of the campaign is to support at-home learning, especially with the difficulties of virtual learning and limited access to libraries,” said the district’s Community Outreach Aide Ana Maria Fritsch. “We are trying to build home libraries for children who cannot afford to purchase books and promote at-home reading.”
Through the generosity of (914) Cares and the local community, Mount Kisco Elementary School received about 700 books and Bedford Hills Elementary School received roughly 500. The books were collected during donation drives held over the summer.
“We donate items anywhere they are needed,” said Schwarzfeld of the nonprofit. “We found that as many places have been closed due to COVID, schools and places that distributed food were the best ways to reach those in need.”
Last winter, Schwarzfeld started a Junior Advisory Board for (914) Cares as an opportunity for high school students to engage in the community and support the nonprofit’s efforts. Three Fox Lane High School students are part of the 15-person board: Aidan Ferguson, Hannah Getman and Jordan Lubinsky. Students helped sort through the tens of thousands of books Schwarzfeld and Jordan collected during two book drives to ensure they met their quality standards.
“It’s important to us that the books bring a sense of pride, ownership and dignity,” said Schwarzfeld. “If a book isn’t in a condition that I’d give my own child, we won’t pass it along. We sort the books by reading level and do a thorough check to make sure they’re not damaged. Hannah and Aidan, as well as Maddie Getman, Nate Getman, Dylan Gourlay and my middle school kids, Mia and Jacob Schwarzfeld, in addition to Junior Advisory Board members from other schools, have helped with sorting through the books. It’s a big job!”
Mount Kisco Elementary and Bedford Hills Elementary School Principals Inas Morsi-Hogans and C. Zbyněk Gold were thrilled their students could benefit from the donations.
“At Mount Kisco Elementary School we are going to get all of these books in student homes because we believe books change lives and reading is fundamental,” said Morsi-Hogans. “Getting books in the hands of our MKES students means that children have access to new stories. The picture books are especially beautiful gifts for our English Language Learners to unlock the world around them. Children are so happy with books and to give the gift of reading is the perfect way to kick-off the holiday season. We are immensely grateful to (914) Cares for this generous donation!”
Bedford Hills Elementary is using the donated books to stock its lending library for kindergarten through second grade as well as to provide summer and vacation books for grades three through five.
“We encourage students to take home extra books leading into vacations so they have just the right book to read while on breaks,” said Gold. “We level all the books to help the students pick books that they can successfully read independently.”
(914) Cares, which has distributed almost 20,000 books to schools and community partners since the summer, shares the goals of our principals.
“We want kids to have access to books that they love,” Schwarzfeld said. “Every child should be able to create their own home library with books that they enjoy and can read. Our hope is that these books will provide that to children who might not otherwise have access.“