Thanks for visiting!

Books for Keeps has moved to its new online home. Please visit us over at www.booksforkeeps.org.

Our new website has everything contained in this old blog -- and much more!


You can't teach an old blog new tricks

Books for Keeps is, at its core, a grassroots effort to just get books in the hands of kids in need.

In the earliest days, this blog was a lifeline for Melaney – she used it to broadcast everything from book shortages to leaky roof crises to the news that BFK, at long last, has a staff person.

But this blog has, for some time, been insufficient for our growing organization. So, very soon we
will say farewell to this old blog and hello to our new website.

We’re pretty excited.

Our new online home will give us a better online “face” to the wider world. For an organization that no longer subsists purely on volunteer workers, second-hand books, and word of mouth, that’s pretty important.

In 2014 we will be in nine elementary schools – NINE! We’re growing up, and we hope you’ll continue to follow the story at our new online home.

All old blog entries from this site have been moved over to a new blog at our new website. We will continue to use that new blog to share news, broadcast needs, and acknowledge the folks who make Books for Keeps strong.

We’ll let you know when it’s “official”!

Until then, enjoy a few sneak peeks at what it will look like.


Happy Diary of a Wimpy Kid Release Day!

It’s a good day for the Wimpy Kid.

The latest installment in the perennially popular series following
middle-schooler Greg Heffley was released today. This is the eighth book in the series, and we are gearing up for the flood of children we serve asking us if we have any copies of the bright green book.

That’s how many students know these books – by the colors. “Do you have the green ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid?’” they will ask.

In order to be able to answer “yes,” we need help!

Along with sports books, superheroes, and “Captain Underpants,” books from this series are among the most requested books we distribute every year. But because this book is a contemporary favorite among schoolchildren, it’s also one of the books that we seldom receive from second-hand donations.

Through national nonprofit First Book, we have the opportunity to buy special-edition paperbacks of this new release for just $3.05. That’s a fantastic deal, but it still breaks our standard per-book spending limit of $2.

So, each year at this time, we embark on special fund-raising, asking our supporters to make a donation to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fund.

A $3.05 donation will buy one book. A donation of $30.50 will allow us to buy 10 copies of the book to distribute to 10 children in grades four and five. If we can secure enough donated copies and raise enough funds, we will also distribute them to third-graders, who are clamoring to read this book and keep up with their older peers!

We're setting a goal: to raise enough money through this campaign to buy 250 copies of the book by the end of the month. Will you help?

Since the holidays are approaching, you can make a donation to the Wimpy Kid Fund in honor of the loved one.

Just make a note when you donate via check or via PayPal that the donation is a gift, and the name of the person in whose honor you are donating. We will email you a certificate you can present to that person.

So, it’s a good day for the Wimpy Kid. Help ensure that May distributions will be a good day for the children we serve who get so excited when we tell them there are enough copies of this book for each of them.

A final note: we are always looking for donated books from this series! If you have a child or know of a child who would be willing to part with any of their gently-used “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books, please consider donating them.


On great progress and big steps – and the help we need to reach the finish line

It’s been a while since we posted any updates.

That’s because we’ve been busy little bees.

It’s the time of year when we have to take careful stock of the books we have on hand so we know where to fill in the gaps leading up to May distributions.

Here’s the bottom line: we’re in great shape with books on hand and ability to purchase what we need before the end of the year. But we have a ways to go – read on to learn how you can help.


Our initial estimates about one month ago were that we have 20,000 distribution-ready books in the warehouse, and after several weeks of doing inventory – much of it with the help of awesome volunteers – we have more than 13,000 books officially logged into inventory.

Knowing what is left to inspect, we believe we are well on our way to logging the estimated books into inventory in the next month or so. That means those 20,000 books will have been inspected, placed in the right age category, counted, and are ready to box up in the spring before delivery to schools.

Combined with the money we have in the bank, and more books being purchased on deep discount every day – think $0.35 to $2 per book – we are feeling really good.

(To give you a glimpse of what our book acquisition looks like: Leslie just placed an order with Scholastic today, and it’s her biggest order yet: more than 2,000 books for $3,307! Meanwhile, we were notified by First Book, the national nonprofit, that we’ll be receiving 3,058 books from their most recent distribution, for just the cost of shipping – a mere $1987.70, or $.65 a book!)


But we still have a long way to go. We have many grant applications pending to help cover the cost reaching two additional Athens schools (plus two schools outside Athens for the first time). While we are confident that many of these applications will be successful, we need the community’s support to help cover the children and the classrooms still in need of sponsorship.

We still have 1,577 children in need of sponsors – out of the nearly 4,000 we will be serving in 2014. Just $25 sponsors a child and ensures he or she has great books to read all summer long. It takes $500 to sponsor an entire classroom. It’s a great way for a business to give back to the community, or for a group of individuals to mark a life-long friendship in a meaningful way.

As you make plans for giving this holiday season, and you wonder how and where your dollars can be put to use most effectively, please consider giving to Books for Keeps. Your dollars go directly toward buying books for children who might not otherwise own a single book.

Keep checking back for updates on how we are proceeding toward our goal of getting a sponsor for every single child we serve in 2014! We will post regularly to update everyone on our progress.


It's the most wonderful time of the year (for "Wimpy Kid" fans)

It's that time of year, when all of the good little boys and girls count the days until he arrives.

Think we're talking about Santa? No way.

In November, Greg Heffley returns in the eighth installment of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," entitled “Hard Luck.”

We need your help
bringing this book to the fourth- and fifth-graders we serve. It's one of the most requested books, and one of the least donated.

We have more than 300 currently in stock, which is great - but it still is not enough.

In order to have enough books from this series for each child in the higher grades to pick out one, we need another 588 books from across this series.

We are fortunate enough to have access to paperbacks of this highly popular, highly demanded book for just $3.05, available once the book is released in November.

But, because we always have to be careful about our per-book cost, this great price is still too much without additional fundraising. Will you contribute to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Fund and help us provide one of the most popular contemporary books to the fourth- and fifth-graders we serve?

Your contribution will go a long way! Just $3.05 buys one book. Make a donation of $30.50 or more in someone’s name, and we’ll email you a certificate you can print at home to recognize them.

When you make a donation by clicking the PayPal link at the right-hand side of the page, make sure to include a note with your payment identifying in whose honor you have made your donation.


Book Drive month - updated locations and great progress!

We're getting tons of fun updates from our book drive site hosts already, just a week into the month.

We've also had a handful of additional book drive hosts sign up since we last posted, and wanted to say "thank you" to our updated list of hosts, plus let you know where you can drop your books off.

We also have a couple of September book drives wrapping up that we wanted to let you know about. Our friends from Alpha Beta Gamma at Athens Technical College collected five boxes of books that they brought on a volunteer day at our warehouse two weekends ago. Fantastic!

Classic City Orthodontics continues to rake in hundreds of great used books from their patients and families.
One of their last boxes of donations had multiple gently used "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books. (Leslie is going to pick up more books from their Watkinsville location today!)

The perennial Book Drive Month aces at Avid Bookshop have been updating us, and their Young Readers club is in the lead of the four-way "Smack-down" competition between the shop's book clubs. The Young Readers led with 120 books collected, as of Monday, Oct. 7, leaving the other teams in a distant tie for second. Great job, Young Readers!
We got a fantastic piece of news over the weekend when we learned that Avid's publisher rep with Southern Territory Association was having 32 pounds of books shipped to Avid as a donation toward their BFK Book Drive. What a wonderful surprise!

Meanwhile, our friends at the Atlanta offices of URS Corporation are having spooky fun with their drive, making it part of their office's Halloween decorations. We understand they've already collected lots of books!

Thank you to all of the hosts of book drives during the BFK Book Drive Month in October! We can't wait to see what you collect.

Here's a full list of participants:

URS Corporation - Atlanta office
Turner & Patat PC
Total Training Center
Talmadge Terrace community
Sigma Nu fraternity, Georgia Southern University
Piedmont College, Athens campus - drop-off bins in the library and the main building
The Omni Club of Athens (east and west locations)
The Master of Public Administration program at UGA (hosting a friendly competition between departments in the School of Public and International Affairs)
Leon Farmer & Company
Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful
First Presbyterian Church of Athens - drop-off bins in the Atrium, Children's Ministry suite, and Pre-school
Delta Zeta sorority at UGA
City of Winterville City Hall
• The College of Education at UGA - drop-off bins in Aderhold Hall, Ramsey Center, and River's Crossing
Avid Bookshop (hosting a competition between four book clubs to see who can collect the most books)
Allergy Partners of Georgia


Book Drive Month - it's not too late to host your own BFK book drive!

Book Drive Month is officially here!

To truly have a successful Book Drive Month, we need additional hosts and locations for book drives!

Can you help, or do you know someone who can? It’s a fun, easy way to help Books for Keeps!

Hosting a book drive can be as simple as placing a box in your garage or the lobby of your workplace, then emailing folks to let them know it’s there. You’ll help us reach people we’ve never reached before, and it’s a fantastic way for people to clean off their bookshelves.

If you, your business, your church, or a civic group you belong to would like to host a book drive, please email Leslie at leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org.

While we’re at it, we wanted to say THANK YOU to the groups that already have book drives under way during October:

Turner & Patat PC
Total Training Center
Sigma Nu fraternity, Georgia Southern University
The Omni Club of Athens (east and west locations)
The Master of Public Administration program at UGA (hosting a friendly competition between departments in the School of Public and International Affairs)
Leon Farmer & Company
Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful
Avid Book Shop (hosting a competition between four book clubs to see who can collect the most books)
Allergy Partners of Georgia


Buy a scoop, support BFK

We know you probably didn't look out your window at the rain this morning and think, "Man, I could really go for some ICE CREAM today!"

But, tonight, there's a fun opportunity to support Books for Keeps, while getting your Chunky Monkey quota.

Ben & Jerry's in downtown Athens (105 College Avenue) is hosting a percentage night tonight, on behalf of Books for Keeps.

They'll be donating 20 percent of their proceeds between 6 and 8 p.m. to BFK.

So come on down and buy a scoop. Supporting a local charity never tasted so good.


Young people, little gestures, and the big difference they can make

Every once in a while, we are reminded that what we do is only a very small part of a larger, and incredibly inspiring community. We see an act of selflessness that stops us in our tracks and makes us feel a little awestruck.

This week, after putting out a call for sponsors of Melaney’s upcoming Thrift Store Tour, we got an email.

More specifically, we got an email from Abby, a 12-year-old who is donating $85 to sponsor a stop. What made this email even more
special is knowing that this is part of a larger effort by Abby. She wants to support literacy in her community as part of a project for Girl Scouts, and created a little business to raise the funds she needs.

Plus, Abby is going to meet Melaney to help shop for books at the thrift store stop she is sponsoring. We love connecting with our supporters over books!

Keep up the great work, Abby - and thanks for your support!

We still have stops that need sponsors. Check out the list here, or email Melaney: melaney@booksforkeeps.org.

It’s a simple, yet powerful way to support Books for Keeps. Rather than buying brand new books with this money, we are able to go find gently-loved, like-new books for our program. They are often hard-to-find books like “Captain Underpants” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” that, with a little time and effort, can be unearthed at our local thrift stores.

Click the “Donate” button at the upper-right corner of this Web page to make a donation. And thank you!


Announcing... The 2013 Thrift Store Tour!

9/17 Update: Atlanta and Athens stops scheduled for October 1-2, and we still need sponsors!

Last summer, Melaney embarked on a thrift store tour of the southeast, in the month or so before she went back to work full time.  She covered parts of four states, with each stop sponsored by a different Books for Keeps supporter.

In some cases, the sponsors met Melaney at the stores they sponsored, and helped her shop!

Last year’s  tour generated 1,935 books for $1,606. This year, Melaney is returning to the stores where we got the biggest bang for our buck. All we need now are sponsors!

Will you sponsor a stop, or donate funds to help cover a portion of the larger ones? Here's how. We’ve included the purchase amount at each stop last year as a guideline, and we’ve added a couple of new stops.

Leg # 2 – Atlanta Road Trip
Goodwill Sandy Springs ($60) - Sponsored! Lori H, Atlanta
Goodwill Buckhead ($60)
Goodwill Perimeter ($80) - Sponsored! Lori H, Atlanta
Goodwill Midtown ($160) - Sponsored! Leigh S, Atlanta
Goodwill Johns Creek ($85) - Sponsored! Abby B
Goodwill Lawrenceville ($90) - Sponsored! Kay H, Germany

Leg # 2 - Athens Area
Goodwill Athens - Huntington Road  ($85)
Goodwill Athens - Gaines School Road (New! Estimated at $50)
Goodwill  Winder ($110)

Leg # 2 – Macon Area We can't schedule this stop without sponsors...

Goodwill “Goodreads Bookstore” ($205)
Special Opportunity*: Gottwals Used Books ($480)

The stops will be scheduled as they are sponsored, so please consider making a donation today.  We’ll share pictures, tweets, and stories along the way.  Click here for details on how to sponsor a stop - it's as easy as clicking "Donate."

If you're interested in meeting Melaney at a stop, contact her at melaney@booksforkeeps.org.

*Special opportunity at Gottwals Used Books: 
This used book store, with locations in Macon and Warner Robins, stays stocked with books from the Books for Keeps wish list.  The books cost a bit more; usually $2-$4 each, but they are books we rarely see in thrift stores - graphic novels, Wimpy Kids, and other hard to find books. We are hoping for a special sponsor or group of sponsors to cover Gottwals.


Thank you to the supporters getting a head start on Book Drive Month!

We've already given you the run-down of Book Drive Month in October, and how you can help.

We have a handful of intrepid supporters who are getting a head start, and we wanted to say "thank you," and let you know about their drives.

Each fall, Dr. Tradd Harter and the staff at Classic City Orthodontics host a drive on our behalf during the month of September. They even use their appointment reminders to remind folks to bring donated books to their appointments.

If you're a patient, or have a child who is, please consider donating any used books or new children's books to Classic City Orthodontics this month. Both locations, in Athens and Watkinsville, have collection bins. They have been long-time supporters of our program, and we are grateful!

Also this month, Alpha Beta Gamma at Athens Technical College is collecting books in multiple locations around campus.

Alpha Beta Gamma has been a reliable source of volunteers and support at Books for Keeps. In fact, they will be helping at a volunteer day in the warehouse later this month!

If you work at or attend Athens Tech, or even if it's just convenient to where you live or work, you can donate books in buildings A, B, H, and the Library.

Thanks, Classic City Orthodontics and Athens Tech! Your support sets a great example for the rest of our community!


Book Drive Month: it’s your moment to get involved with Books for Keeps

Been wondering how you or your business can help Books for Keeps in a simple, straight-forward way?

Book Drive Month is around the corner, and whether you knew it or not, this is the chance you’ve been waiting for.

We are seeking businesses, churches, civic groups – or regular, everyday individuals – who can hold a book drive on behalf of Books for Keeps during the month of October.

Hosting a Books for Keeps drive location can be as simple as putting a box in your garage or office and sending an email to let folks know it's there. You'll be surprised at how many books you get, but we're happy whether you collect 25 books or 2,500 books.

We need new and like-new books for our distributions in Athens elementary schools, as well as two new sites outside of Athens, this school year. Check out our wish list on the left side of our home page to see what books are in high demand for our Stop Summer Slide! program. Remember, our program pivots around an important point: children pick out the books they are excited about, and that they will want to pick up and read during summer without any encouragement from an adult.

However, we will accept books of all kinds! Any books that are not right for our program go to our book sale, where they generate funds to help us buy the books that are right.

For larger book drives, we can help with communications and logistics if needed. We will gladly post information about location, hours, and contact details on our blog and Facebook page, as well as distribute that information in our newsletter.

Regardless of size, we'll provide printable signs and logos, and messaging to include in an email, Facebook post, newsletter or other bulletin.

We hope you'll consider holding a book drive soon, whether large or small. If you would like to host a book drive location, or you have questions, please contact Leslie at leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org.

And thanks!


Throw-back Thursday at Books for Keeps

One of our favorite things to do at Books for Keeps is take a moment to remember how far we’ve come in just a few years.

It’s a nostalgia exercise, but it’s also a motivating exercise – right when you’re feeling a little tired or a overwhelmed – to underline the fact that we have accomplished great things and come a long way in a short period of time.


So, we’re spending today looking back at the previous two years of our annual book sale, after the conclusion of a very successful
fundraiser in which we raised $20,000. That’s right – the third annual BFK Book Sale brought in $20,000 to help us buy the books that get children excited about reading, and keep their brains active and engaged all summer long.

We had a great retail location this year in Homewood Village Shopping Center. We still managed to keep costs low, yet spread the word far and wide, thanks to sponsored advertising from
Fairway Outdoor Advertising and the OnlineAthens and Athens Banner-Herald. We had many corporate sponsors – enough to cover every single hour of the book sale, meaning that all donations made by patrons were doubled by our sponsors!

And we can’t forget our incredible volunteers. More than 75 people helped us sort, organize, set up tables, decorate, sell, break down,
haul away and clean – all in about three weeks! We cannot thank all of you wonderful volunteers enough!

We still have a long way to go toward our fundraising goals for this year – we recently made a commitment to expand to two more schools in Athens, plus two schools outside of Athens for the first time. We need partners in the community who can help us make that happen.

So get in touch! Email Leslie at leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org and let her know if your business can sponsor a classroom for just $500. Tell us if you could host a fundraiser or a percentage night at a local restaurant. Or maybe even dedicate a portion of proceeds from a yard sale to assist Books for Keeps.

Can’t do much, but still want to help? Just $25 sponsors a child, providing him or her with enough books to read and keep growing those brain muscles all summer long!

That’s what we need as we look ahead, but this all started with a look BACK. So, come on a little journey with us.


Our first book sale was held in October 2011, in Five Points. It was out of necessity more than anything else – Books for Keeps had hundreds of donated books that were not right for our program. Some titles were adult fiction or nonfiction, or they were children’s books that were too well-loved or out of date to distribute to the children we serve.

It raised $3,000, and got off the ground entirely through word-of-mouth efforts. There was no advertising budget. There were a handful of printed (but mostly emailed) flyers. And everything happened through the hard work and grace of volunteers.

In August 2012, Books for Keeps secured a retail location near the Goodwill off Atlanta Highway
for the second annual sale. For the first time, we had just a couple of event sponsors providing matching donations (shout-out to Board Member Merryn Walker for her Allstate agency taking the lead, and returning to do the same thing again this year!)

There were more books. There was more advertising. We got some ink in the Athens Banner-Herald during the first full day of our sale. But everyone remained guarded about how much we would make.

In the end, Books for Keeps netted $15,000 in proceeds from that second annual sale in 2012.


Reflecting on the growth from year one to year two, it’s hard to not feel a little wistful that we couldn’t multiply our proceeds as heartily as we moved from year two to year three.

But, it’s a reminder that we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket. Just like individual contributions are not enough to run a program that will soon be serving children in NINE schools both inside and outside Athens, we cannot rely on a single grant or a single fundraiser to generate the proceeds we need to supplement donations and grant dollars.

So, after taking a moment to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, the wheels start spinning on how we can make our next book sale even more successful, and how we can augment our fundraising efforts by adding new and more diverse events.

We charge onward – as we always have – reminding ourselves that this organization and this effort is so much bigger than one person, or one board, or a single group. It’s about helping children in our community pave a better future for themselves, and in turn, for everyone around them.

And that’s what really keeps us going.


Thank you to our BFK Book Sale sponsors!

The BFK Book Sale is a mere three days away.

The sale site is abuzz with activity, thanks in large part to some truly incredible volunteers. However, we also want to take a time-out to thank the many businesses and individuals who have helped make this fundraiser possible.

Sponsors of our book sale play a really important role. They help us cover overhead costs like utilities and advertising so the money we make goes directly back into our program. But more importantly, their donations sponsor specific portions of the sale.

What this means is that when you choose to make a donation at the BFK Book Sale, these sponsors have pledged to match your donation up to a certain amount. Our sponsors are counting on our patrons to be generous and to dig deep in order to make the most of their pledged matches.

See the full book sale schedule here.

We’ll be recognizing our sponsors at the book sale, and telling patrons who/what business will match their donation during each portion of the sale. We also wanted to take a moment to recognize all of our wonderful sponsors here, because, well, we just can’t thank them enough.

Full-day sponsor:
• Niolon Lumber Sales

Half-day sponsors:
• Allergy Partners of Georgia
• Allstate – Merryn Walker Agency
• BookScouter.com
• Model Citizen Salon
• Supporters of EmpowerEdGeorgia.org
• Carol & Rob Winthrop

Two-hour sponsors:
• First American Bank & Trust
• Holland & Company/MacRae
• Mitchell Bridge Dental Associates
• Taqueria la Parrilla
• Kathy Prescott & Grady Thrasher

In-kind sponsors:
• Crown Transfer & Storage
• Fairway Outdoor Advertising
• Fire & Flavor
• Homewood Village Shopping Center
• Mama’s Boy
• Online Athens & Athens Banner-Herald
• Taqueria La Parrilla


BIG News: Books for Keeps is expanding to reach more children

We'll cut to the chase, because this news is too big and too exciting.

We're expanding. And we're expanding in a big way.

On Aug. 3, the Books for Keeps board of directors made the decision to serve two new Athens elementary schools in 2014, and to reach students outside of Athens for the first time.

This is a huge deal in the life of our organization. It's about us keeping a promise made soon after we were incorporated as a nonprofit in 2011. It's about us stretching to meet the need where it exists.

And like anything else Books for Keeps does, we're going to do it big and we're going to do it right. Full details are in the announcement below.

Help us spread the news. Books for Keeps is growing. Books for Keeps is maintaining its commitment to Athens students, while reaching out to those areas of the state where we know there is additional need.

It's going to take a huge effort to make this happen. This commitment means we will nearly double the number of students served by our program, Stop Summer Slide! But like so many things that feel large and overwhelming, it would not be worth taking on if it weren't a little scary.

We've gotten this far because of the support of our community. We need your help now more than ever. Spread the word. Come to the BFK Book Sale, Aug. 22-25, at Homewood Village Shopping Center. Make a donation via the PayPal link on our website. Host a book drive. There are many ways for you to be involved as we move forward.



ATHENS, GA. – August 8, 2013 – Leading up to its biggest fundraiser of the year, Books for Keeps is announcing a significant increase in the number of children it serves.

Committing to nearly double its program, Stop Summer Slide!, in spring 2014, the organization is undertaking a major expansion just two years after incorporating as a nonprofit. The expansion will deepen Books for Keeps’ commitment to the Athens community, while extending its reach outside Athens for the first time.

The plans are in keeping with a commitment made at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2011 by founder and board member Melaney Smith. There, Smith agreed to serve every Athens elementary school with 90 percent or more students receiving free or reduced lunch. She also committed to reach one school in Atlanta and one school in rural Georgia.

“At the time, we did not know the need in Athens would actually grow,” Smith said. “Rather than renege on that promise, we are taking a huge leap. We are keeping our commitment to Athens children while taking our program to those pockets in Georgia where we know the need is equal, and in some cases, even more acute.”

This announcement comes as Books for Keeps gears up for its largest fundraiser of the year, the third annual BFK Book Sale. This year’s sale will run from Aug. 22 through 25, and will be held in Homewood Village Shopping Center. Last year’s sale, which featured 25,000 books, raised $16,000. This year, an estimated 40,000 books will be for sale.

In May 2013, Books for Keeps’ flagship program, Stop Summer Slide!, reached 2,000 students in five Athens elementary schools. In 2014, the nonprofit will distribute books in two additional Athens schools, Winterville Elementary School and Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School, adding approximately 1,000 children.

"The Clarke County School District is very appreciative of Books for Keeps' continued support for our students, and are thrilled that two more sites are being added. Helping cultivate a love of reading is something that will serve our students well throughout their lives. It is undoubtable that the Books for Keeps board has made a real difference in our community with this level of commitment," said Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue.

Also in 2014, for the first time ever, Books for Keeps intends to serve two elementary schools outside Athens. The program will target one new school in Atlanta and one new school in rural Georgia. Executive Director Leslie Hale is working with the Books for Keeps board to select the new schools on the basis of need, geography and size.

“This program started because of significant and undeniable need in the community we call home – and we will always retain our commitment first and foremost to Athens children,” Hale said. “However, there are parts of the state where access to libraries is even more limited, supplemental primary-school programs are harder to find, and children are starving for reading material that will keep their brains active, engaged and growing outside of the school year.”

The upcoming BFK Book Sale is a major source of funds for Books for Keeps’ programs each year. All books are acquired through donations, often via book drives organized by partners in the community.

Books at the sale will start at $.50, with newer hardbacks selling for up to $3. Prices will drop each day after the start of the book sale until the last day of the sale, when shoppers can walk away with a grocery bag full of books for just $5.

Books for Keeps thanks our sponsors: Niolon Lumber Sales; Allergy Partners of Georgia, Allstate – Merryn Walker Agency; BookScouter.com; Supporters of EmpowerEDGeorgia.org; Carol & Rob Winthrop; First American Bank & Trust; Holland & Company/MacRae; Mitchell Bridge Dental Associates; Taqueria La Parrilla; and Kathy Prescott & Grady Thrasher. For more information, contact leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org or (706) 410-1912.


About Books for Keeps: Books for Keeps started as one woman’s effort to help a child who loved to read but had no books at home. It grew from a grassroots movement into a research-based program to end summer slide in Athens, Ga., by ensuring children have access to books when school lets out. The nonprofit was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in 2011.

Books for Keeps distributes books to students ranging from pre-K through 12th grade. The flagship elementary school program, Stop Summer Slide!, is based on a University of Florida study that found giving economically-disadvantaged elementary school children each 12 high-interest books at the beginning of summer had an impact on reading achievement statistically similar to attending summer school.

Books for Keeps distributed 40,000 books to Athens-Clarke children in the 2012-13 school year, including 24,000 through Stop Summer Slide!



Sell a book. Change a life. Volunteer at the BFK Book Sale.

Summer is winding down, and soon it will be back to the grind of PTA meetings and soccer practice, the crush of football traffic, and the routine that fall brings.

Not to worry – Books for Keeps has the perfect opportunity to ease you back into the school year. Come volunteer at the third annual BFK Book Sale, between August 22 and 25 (Thursday through Sunday).

It’s the weekend before the UGA football season opener, and we have a great location this year: Homewood Village Shopping Center (just off the loop, in the same center as Taqueria La Parrilla).

Sign up for a volunteer shift at HandsOn Northeast Georgia or email Leslie Hale at leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org to sign up. We need volunteers who can run the cash register, check out shoppers, answer questions, read to kids, and organize inventory.

Shifts are as follows:

Thursday, Aug. 22 -- 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 23 -- 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (we will be feeding volunteers in this shift lunch from Mama's Boy!)

Friday, Aug. 23 -- 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 24 -- all shifts full

Sunday, Aug. 25 -- 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (we will be feeding volunteers lunch from someplace TBD on this day)

Sunday, Aug. 25 -- 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

This is our biggest fundraiser of the year! Last year’s book sale raised $16,000 – all of which went back into buying books to keep kids here in Athens reading all summer long.

All year long, we receive donated books. Many of them are adult books, or they are children's books that aren't quite right for our program. At Books for Keeps, though, every book has a purpose. The books we cannot use make money to help us buy more books we can use. This year, we estimate we have roughly 40,000 books destined for the sale.

We need your help to make this year’s fundraiser a success, and to blow last year’s total out of the water! No matter what your skill set or interests, we have a job for you at our book sale!

To learn more or email us at info@booksforkeeps.org.


The BFK Book Sale is back – and it's going to be better than ever!

It's that time of year again.

You know, the one where you tell your inner book lover that it's OK to go crazy. It's OK to just buy an extra five books (or ten or twenty) rather than picking them up at the library.

Because it's the BFK Book Sale.

We’re pleased to announce that we have the best location yet for our third annual sale, and by far the best selection of books to showcase. Because every book at the sale was donated to us, it means every dollar you spend on books at the BFK Book Sale goes right back into purchasing books that will get kids in Athens excited about reading all summer long.

So don’t hold back. Join us August 22 through 25 at Homewood Village Shopping Center, 2415-C Jefferson Road (next to Harry’s BBQ Bistro), for a long weekend of great books. Our prices can’t be beat – our most expensive books start at $3, and prices will be reduced over each day of the sale.

We’re also planning lots of fun extras for the book sale, like live music, a Kids’ Corner where volunteers will be reading to your little ones while you shop, and more. Keep checking back here for details as we set them. You can also join our event on Facebook, follow updates on our Facebook page, or sign up for our newsletter.

See you at Homewood Village in August!

BFK Book Sale dates and times:

Thursday, Aug. 22 – 5 to 8 p.m.
Sneak Preview Night: $10 admission gets you first crack at our amazing selection of books

Friday, Aug. 23 – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday Free-day: Our first free-admission day of the sale. Check out our best books before they’re gone.

Saturday, Aug. 24 – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Family Fun Day: Live music, food, and reading in the Kids’ Corner all day. We’ll have something for everyone! Prices will be reduced on this day from previous days – there’s no turning that down!

Sunday, Aug. 25 – 12 to 5 p.m.
Bag Day: Fill up a grocery bag of books for just $5, and other amazing deals as we close out our sale


Class Sponsor: Dr. Tradd Harter: Classic City Orthodontics

It's a pretty special thing to be able to say you were part of something – a true supporter – from the very beginning. That's exactly the case with Classic City Orthodontics.

Dr. Tradd Harter's practice was one of the first local businesses to host a book drive benefiting Books for Keeps. Classic City Orthodontics now holds a drive every August. It has become so much a part of their routine in the fall that they remind patients to bring books to donate when making appointment reminder phone calls. For the first time this year, Dr. Harter's practice served as a class sponsor, making it possible for us to provide 12 books and a tote bag to every student in a class during our May distributions.

This sense of involvement in the community is an important facet of the Classic City Orthodontics team. They support the Children's Book Series at the Classic Center, and are supporters of other service organizations such as The Junior League of Athens and Project Safe.
"We at Classic City Orthodontics have a heart for kids because we specialize in orthodontics for children and adolescents," Dr. Harter says. "We support charities that focus on issues that affect this age group. Books for Keeps is an important cause that works to build literacy among children, and they are making an enormous difference in our community. We plan to continue to support Books for Keeps with our annual fall book drive and also as a sponsor."

Dr. Harter's commitment is also personal – he and his wife, Betsy, and son Gavin have been to the warehouse to help sort and box books. Members of the community who dedicate their time, energy, AND money are truly special people.

Dr. Harter has more than a decade of experience treating children and adults who need everything from retainers to complex surgeries. The team at Classic City Orthodontics believes in lifelong education as much as in childhood education – and they live that mantra by keeping up to date on the latest techniques and technologies through continuing education courses, association meetings, study clubs, visits from orthodontic consultants, and computer and imaging system training.

Thank you to Classic City Orthodontics and Dr. Harter! Partners like you are what make Books for Keeps strong!

Classic City Orthodontics
Athens office: 600 Oglethorpe Avenue
New Watkinsville office: 1020 Jamestown Boulevard
(706) 549-4748


The annual BFK Book Sale is upon us!

Have you heard?

Our annual BFK Book Sale is coming up August 22-25. So, mark the date on your calendars and get ready for our best-stocked, most exciting book sale yet.

If you don't know, the Books for Keeps Book Sale is our biggest fundraiser of the year. We take the donated books that cannot be given to children and we sell them so we can buy more books the kids can use.

We're still looking for a location, so if you know of a vacant space we could use for about two weeks leading up to and during the book sale, let us know. On our wish list for that space: 4,000 to 5,000 square feet, a loading dock, and air conditioning. Anyone with ideas or space can email Leslie: leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org.

But, before we can get in there and sell our fantastic stock of titles, we have to finish sorting through the thousands of donations we've received in the past year. If you're interested in helping, or maybe just getting a sneak peek of the books, our next volunteer book sort will be June 29.

Sign up at the link above, or send an email to leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org. We would love your help! And if you can't help on June 29, but want to get on the volunteer list for the book sale weekend in August, let us know that too.


Another first for Books for Keeps!

I wanted you to hear it from me first:  at long last, Books for Keeps has taken the leap and committed to a full-time executive director! Leslie Hale, our new executive director, is living proof that everyone at Books for Keeps is serious about providing more books to more children... and soon. And she is READY!

Where will I be? Right here, of course. You can reach me at melaney@booksforkeeps.org.

My first big project, now that Leslie's on board? Finding a warehouse (and the funds to pay for it) so that we can collect, inspect, and sort more books, with more volunteers, more of the time. Who wants to help?  (Seriously... help?!!)

We also have a new email address: it's now info@booksforkeeps.org. 

What else has changed? Nothing - unless you count the exponential increase in our potential to end summer slide in Athens.

Here are a few details.  Welcome to Books for Keeps, Leslie!

-- Melaney

Melaney Smith, Books for Keeps, Inc.
(404) 808-8625


ATHENS, GA. – June 4, 2013 – Transitioning from a volunteer-run organization to a fully professionalized nonprofit, Athens-based Books for Keeps has hired its first full-time executive director.
Leslie Hale, a May 2013 recipient of a master's degree from The University of Georgia, officially took the reins on Monday as the nonprofit's first full-time director. The move comes two years after Books for Keeps' incorporation as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and four years after founder Melaney Smith distributed books for the first time to a few classrooms at Alps Road Elementary School in Athens.
Books for Keeps started because I saw a need in Athens that I couldn't ignore – and after being sustained through the hard work of volunteers and the support of the local community, we are thrilled to be in a position to take Books for Keeps to the next level,” Smith said. “Ensuring that children in Athens and beyond have the ability to read and learn – especially during the summer months – is a big task, and had grown bigger than could be overseen by an all-volunteer organization.”
Smith has been serving as acting executive director while working full-time in another field. She will remain with Books for Keeps as a board member and active volunteer.
The nonprofit gave roughly 24,000 books to 2,000 children in five Athens-Clarke County schools last month during its annual distribution. Each May, the organization distributes books to students in Athens-Clarke County schools with the highest percentages of children receiving free and reduced-price lunches.
Books for Keeps is examining its ability and capacity to expand to new schools, both inside and outside of Athens. Hale will lead that work, as well as efforts to expand community awareness, fundraising and partnerships with Georgia-based businesses.
Leslie comes to us with a background in media relations and public policy, as well as event planning and fundraising through her work in graduate school,” said Vicky Wilkins, board president. “She has the combination of skills, energy and experience Books for Keeps needs in an executive director to shepherd this organization from infancy to adolescence, ultimately helping us reach more children.”
Hale received a Master of Public Administration degree in May from The University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs. While in graduate school, she assisted public policy efforts at the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, a federally-funded agency committed to systems change, advocacy and capacity building for people with disabilities in Georgia. Prior to that, she worked with Watkinsville-based Extra Special People, coordinating the nonprofit's public relations efforts during the launch of a $5.3 million capital campaign.
Working with high-need, under-served populations is something that led me toward a graduate degree in public administration,” Hale said. “I am thrilled with the opportunity to lead an organization that has been doing spectacular things thanks to a handful of dedicated volunteers. I look forward to shaping the future of Books for Keeps – all in the name of a better future for children in Georgia.
Before returning to school, Hale spent four years as a newspaper reporter in Naples, Fla., where she spent time covering state and local government, K-12 education, and higher education. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007.
To schedule an interview with Leslie Hale, contact her directly at leslie.hale@booksforkeeps.org or (828) 713-2132.
About Books for Keeps: Books for Keeps started as one woman’s effort to help a child who loved to read but had no books at home. It grew into a grassroots movement to end summer slide in Athens, Ga., by ensuring children have access to books when school lets out. The nonprofit was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in 2011.
Books for Keeps distributes books to students ranging from pre-K through 12th grade. The elementary school program is based on a University of Florida study that found giving economically-disadvantaged elementary school children each 12 high-interest books at the beginning of summer had an impact on reading achievement statistically similar to attending summer school.


It's Here! 2013 Book Distribution Schedule

Book distributions are less than three weeks away! For 50 weeks, we've collected, inspected, sorted and boxed books. Now comes the fun part - we'll spend the first two weeks of May giving them all away!

Join us as we help children select and count their books and record their feedback on our book selection. The one word that seems to best describe the experience:  JOY. No special skills are required; training is provided in the first 10 minutes of each shift.

Sign up for a shift here, on our Volunteer Spot page. If you are part of a group that would like to adopt an entire shift, simply enter your name and the number of people you'll bring. 

The schedule, including the number of volunteers still needed as of Monday, April 15:

Monday April 29:  7:45-11:00 and 11:45-2:15 
Tuesday April 30: 7:45-11:00 and 11:15-1:45

Wednesday May 1:  8:00-11:00 and 11:20-2:30 
Thursday May 2: 8:45-11:00 (Shifts left: 2)

Friday May 3:  7:45-10:45 and 11:20-1:00 
Monday May 6:  7:45-10:35 and 10:40-12:15 (Shifts left: 4)

Tuesday May 7:  7:45-11:00 and 12:20-2:00

Wednesday May 8:  8:00-10:45

Thursday May 9:  8:45-10:45 and 11:20-2:30 (Shifts left: 4)
Friday May 10:  8:50-12:15


Help Needed This Weekend!

We have the books, now we need to get them boxed and ready for delivery to schools!  Come help us box books this weekend at the warehouse, and you'll get a sneak peek at the wonderful books we'll be distributing this year. 

Saturday March 16
10:00-12:30   Need: 5   Have:4
12:30-2:00     Need: 5   Have:4

Sunday March 17
10:00-12:30   Need: 5   Have:3
12:30-2:00     Need: 5   Have: 5

If you can help, contact Melaney at givethembooks@gmail.com. Let me know the shift, and I'll send you directions.


Updated List of Book Drive Participants!

Book drive month is well underway and we are so grateful to all of the organizations who are hosting book drives for Books for Keeps this month. Check out our updated list of our Book Drive Month Participants below. (Participants with addresses listed are serving as drop-off locations for others to donate books.)

Allergy Partners of Athens 3320 Old Jefferson Road
Allstate Offices in Athens, GA
Alpha Chi Omega
Alpha Delta Pi
Alpha Kappa Alpha
Athens Academy
Athens Area Humane Society
Athens First Bank & Trust
   310 Alps Road
   124 East Hancock
   2365 Prince Avenue
   4000 Atlanta Hwy
Athens Mothers Center
Avid Bookshop
Beta Club
Camilla Bracewell's granddaughter Adaline McCullick

Center for Family Research
Compassionate Care Hospice
Delta Zeta
Foodbuy, LLC
Gaines Elementary School
Gamma Phi Beta
Hodgson's Place
House Electric 1045 Baxter Street
Jefferson County High
Junior League of Athens
Kappa Alpha Theta
Keep Athens Beautiful 
Kiwanis Club
Medical Rehabilitation Systems 104 Moores Grove Rd Winterville 
Model Citizen Salon 497 Prince Ave.
K. Craver Book Club
New Haven Baptist
New Prospect Elementary in Alpharetta
Oconee Presbyterian
Oconee Street UMC
Omni Club Both Athens locations
Pump It Up
Sigma Delta Tau
Stiles Properties
Total Training Center
Trinity Lutheran
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Thank you so much to all of our participants! These book drives will make a difference in the life of a child in the Athens Community.

It's not too late to add your name to the list! Holding a book drive is as simple as posting a message on Facebook (or sending an email) and sitting out a collection box. Contact merrynwalker@yahoo.com for details and assistance in getting started.