Retirees, working professionals and anyone age 55 and older are invited to gather monthly to benefit low-income children ages zero to 18 throughout Davidson County at Book'em, a non-profit children's literacy organization.
On the third Wednesday of each month, from 9:30 a.m. until noon, mature volunteers are asked to contribute their time inside the Book'em office, located at 161 Rain Avenue near the fairgrounds. Afterwards, anyone interested can lunch at a nearby eatery in Berry Hill, downtown Nashville or Green Hills.
The activity, specifically for those ages 55 and up, has been held monthly since July 2016.
"The FiftyForward RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers from Dandridge Tower thoroughly enjoyed the service opportunity provided by Book'em. The project was organized, relatable and each volunteer knew that he or she was really making a difference by ensuring that children received a donated book in 'like new' condition," FiftyForward Director of Volunteer Engagement Robin Johnson said.
Studies show that economically disadvantaged children do not own books. In low-income neighborhoods, there is one book for every 300 children, according to researchers Susan B. Neuman and David K. Dickinson. And, every book touched by Book'em volunteers impacts the life of one child as well as his or her brothers, sisters and entire family. These volunteers in particular clean off donated books and sort them for easier distribution. Depending upon what needs to be done for each book, a group of only five volunteers can process approximately 300 to 1,000 books in two-and-a-half hours. Twenty volunteers can process 1,000 to 8,000 books in the same timeframe.
No experience is necessary. Registration is recommended by calling (615) 255-1820 or via e-mail at Megan@Bookem-Kids.org. Parking is free. The building is heated and handicapped accessible, and light refreshments are provided.
All books collected are distributed by local 501(c)3 non-profit, Book'em. "We want every child in Nashville to love reading," said Melissa Spradlin, executive director of Book'em. This 27-year-old non-profit partners with schools and non-profits to distribute over 50,000 books each year throughout Davidson County. "Thanks to our volunteers of every age, Book'em can give more local children the gift of reading."
Book'em focuses on two core areas: providing volunteer readers to local preschools and elementary schools and collecting and distributing new books to economically disadvantaged children and teens in Davidson County who might not otherwise have books of their own. The organization's mission is to create a more literate Nashville by helping economically disadvantaged children from birth through high school discover the joy and value of reading through book ownership and enthusiastic volunteers. Its programs include Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), Ready for Reading, Books for Nashville's Kids and Read Me Day.
To learn more, visit www.bookem-kids.org.