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Joyful Moments As I Give Away Our Books!

23 Mar

I already wrote about my plan to help others when the libraries and schools closed.  I meant just to help those in my circle of friends find a book to read.  But it did not quite work that way. (See blogs below.)

A friend of mine, who has media contacts, told one of them about my plan to give away my books to help others survive the closing of the libraries.  A local television station is doing a series about people helping others, “We See You KSHB.”.  Next thing I know, I was called and asked to participate.

On Friday morning, March 20, I was interviewed. During the 5 o’clock news, MacKenzie Nelson featured my segment.  Within the next 48 hours I had almost 120 requests for books.  I was able to help 104 people.  Twelve I could not help, mainly because they asked for a specific book that I did not have, and that was all they wanted.  Or they wanted books for infants. I have no board books. Several never told me what type of books they wanted.

Bundles of books in my house

Four people wanted large quantities of children’s books. One for a preschool, one for a first grade class, one for the Johnson County Christmas Bureau, and finally for Reach Out and Read KC.  I could not help them.  But another woman I know, a retired teacher, wanted to give me all her books to give away.  I suggested since she had children’s books to be in contact with these four people.  And she agreed.  

Another woman, who worked at Scholastic, had tons of children’s books but no adult books. She also offered to give me children’s books.  Instead I gave her the email addresses for these four people.  I hope that these two people are able to help, magnifying the book giving I am doing. She wrote me this, after picking up her books: “Thank you so much for the books! I have to be honest. I have never read anything written by these authors, but they look very intriguing. I’m so excited. Also, thank you for the list of email addresses. I will go through my collection and see what I have to offer them. Stay safe! See you on the other side. Lots of love.”

Actually, I think I have found my calling. When I was in college, we all had to do a vocational test during our first few days.  Mine came back definite, become a librarian.  I did not do that. I became and English major and then got a master’s in journalism.  But I will admit, I have had great joy as I selected over 300 books for strangers. 

I was nervous about people coming to my front door to pick up the books.   But it worked wonderfully.   I bagged and labeled every bundle of books. Most people got between 2 and 6 books.  One person usually got 2 or 3, but if I was giving to a family, I usually gave 4-6 books.  I went through all the little plastic bags I had in my house. You can see the colors change below!

I sent everyone the following letter after I bundled the books:

“Dear Reader.

     I have received over 100 requests for books.  So obviously, I am not driving all over town to deliver them. And I am practicing Social distancing as I am over 60. So here is how this will work.

     I have selected books for you based on what you asked for. Your books are wrapped in a plastic bag with your name or identifying number on it; however, you identified yourself to me.  Please take your bag.

     You should come pick them up at my home. And I gave the address.

     I am putting them out on my porch now. I will not answer the door as I do not want to have any contact as requested by the doctors.

I do have a security system with a video doorbell.  If you want to wave at me, wave at the camera. 

    I hope you enjoy the books. Stay healthy!”

I was worried that some might take extra books or be upset that they had only a couple. But book lovers are the best people ever.   They came, they searched, they found their books and they waved to me on my video door bell.  Sometimes, a book lover came as I was putting out books. They waited till after I went back inside to approach my porch. 

A few spoke to me through my door.  Emily made me so happy.  She told me looking for her books through the bundles of books made it more fun.  She wanted Star Wars books.  I gave her four.  She left smiling and hugging her books.  I was smiling as well.

Some people left me gifts of cards and art work.  One person left me money.  I will donate it to disaster relief.  I got so many delightful emails.  Here are a few:

“I just got home and wanted to let you know first off that I got my books. I didn’t have Sassinak or Death of Sleep, so new additions to my McCaffrey library! … I hope you saw with your ring-cam how happy I was.”

“Thank you so very much.  It will probably be early evening when I get out that way.  You’re so kind to offer this to people!”

“Sounds like you are doing a good job getting books into the hands of those who need them.”

“It’s a wonderful gift you’re giving away. I wish you all the best, stay safe and healthy. “

“My son was excited about the American revolution book!”

“Thanks and prayers for your safety and health!”

“Omg thank you so much!”

“Thank you for your response and all that you are doing to help and bless others!”

“Wow! You are awesome. Stay safe and healthy. And thank you!”

“I think what you’re doing is so wonderfully generous. You’re right, doing things like this not only makes others feel good, it multiplies back to the giver. Even if you don’t have any books by my favorites, bless you for your kindness and thoughtfulness.”

One woman sent me photos of her husband picking up the books and her with the books along with this note: “I look forward to reading what you picked out for me. I am currently reading “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate”.  That put a smile on my face!

I got to watch them on my Ring videos.  To see the joy on their faces when they found their bundle of books made me happy.  It got my mind off of all the stress the world Is in right now.  I could just relax and enjoy their moment. In reality my giving them books was also a gift to me!

One offered to go to the grocery store for me or help me in any way I needed.  Which was so nice. But so far my husband and I have been doing fine. And we have stocked our house for this time to stay shut in. 

The most amazing request came from one woman.  On the news segment it mentioned that I was giving away the books because I am moving.  Which is true. We were supposed to move into our new, downsized home in early April.  Don’t know what is happening now.   I will say that my current home is a book lover’s dream house.  I have six giant, built-in bookcases, with deep shelves that can be double booked!  Any real book lover would tell you that is most important!

In any case, one woman emailed me after picking up her books:

“Thank you!  Got them.

Love your neighborhood.  Can you let me know when you want to sell!  We have been looking forever….We will hopefully begin our search again in May or June!”

I sent the information to my realtor.  But I have been laughing ever since.  Wouldn’t it be ironic and special  if I sold our house to someone who found it through my book giveaway!  That would be so apropos, as book lovers must stick together.

I should add that my husband finds this entire experience unreal.  Not the virus, rather  the people driving here to get books.  But with the libraries closed and the schools closed, and the stress level high, people need to read.  That is why I decided it was more important to give my books away than save them for a giant estate sale.

So far 323 books left my home to 106 different people. To be honest I probably have a thousand more. I spent 48 hours choosing, sorting, packing, labeling and emailing. It was worth every second because of the looks of joy on the people’s faces as they got their books.

One man came with his son.  He looked at the 30 bundles on my porch.  I could hear him say, “This is just amazing.”  And it was.  For three days, I had a constant flow of book lovers coming to my house.  It gave us all a moment of joy in a time of uncertainty, anxiety and a bit of fear.

I love book lovers! It was a joyful, delightful way to spend the weekend. 

https://zicharonot.com/2020/03/15/libraries-closed-well-i-have-books-to-share/

https://zicharonot.com/2020/03/18/my-pandemic-mitzvot-keep-me-optimistic/

PS: I have to admit to one downside. As I search books for others, I discovered 30 books that I just cannot part with. They are moving with us!

My Pandemic Mitzvot Keep Me Optimistic

18 Mar

I already wrote about the libraries closing and my decision to giveaway some of the thousands of books I am not taking to our new, downsized home. But in the few days since I wrote that blog so much more has happened. Yesterday all schools were asked to stay closed until April 6. Then today, the governor ordered that schools shut their doors for the rest of the school year.

That is unbelievable and truly an unexpected event.

I work at a school. A small, private school for students who do not do well in a traditional setting. This order to close school leaves us all gobstruck and flabbergasted. But with all the schools and libraries closed, books are not only an important release from stress, but also an important learning tool. Where will the children get books to read if the libraries, schools and stores are closed? So I believe my decision to share books is more important than ever.

The requests are coming in. Mystery, romance, funny novels, memoirs, thrillers, fantasy, children’s books for all ages. But I find myself not just saying yes and just handing them a book, I find myself searching through my books to find something that fits the person who requested a book.

Books to give away on my front porch.

I give each person between two and five books. If I have a series, I give them all the books I own in that series. I also offer options to some people, as I have several books I think they might like. I let each person make the final decision. No feelings hurt. But so far, everyone seems to like the books they took from my front porch.

My pandemic mitzvah (good deed) decision is bringing me joy! I think I am, or should have been, a librarian. Trying to match books to people elicits a smile in my brain. A little click occurs and I think, ‘Eureka, perfect fit!’

Eight people have requested books so far. I hope that many more do so. I would be glad to give everyone I know a bit of joy through the gift of a book. But I can only help out those who live within my community.

I think getting the books make them happy as well. I leave them in bags on my front porch. People come by and take the bag labeled for them. Since we are keeping socially distant, I don’t go outside to greet them. But a couple have knocked on the door and given me a smile and a wave and a thank you through the glass.

Some friends who have not requested books have noted what a great idea this is. And a kindness. Kindness goes two ways. People need books. It brings them relief from stress and escape from situations. I get joy by finding good homes for my books. It is so nice to know that another reader will open the pages and be transferred from the somewhat harsh reality of a Coronavirus pandemic, into someone’s words and imagination.

But books are not my only pandemic mitzvot. I am calling house bound people. I am sending notes to the people I usually visit in an elder care facility. I am trying to be upbeat and positive. Sometimes I fail at that, but I am trying. And most of all, I am trying to take care of my husband and myself. We are continuing our exercise, we are eating healthy and I hope we are maintaining our spirits.

I think that by doing something positive I can take a bit of stress out of my life and the lives of those around me. So remember, even if you cannot see your friends, you can call. Even if you cannot go to movies or libraries or concerts, there are many ways to listen to music or read. Take a walk outside. Call someone at home to brighten their day. Doing a mitzvah during the pandemic is my choice to keep optimistic.

Libraries Closed? Well I Have Books to Share!!

15 Mar

Along with the move is the need to downsize.  Which for us means getting rid of books!  We have hundreds, no thousands of books that we are not taking to the new home. Over our almost 40 years of marriage, my husband and I have collected an extensive library on many topics! I plan to sell some and donate others.  But now another plan has come to mind.  I can be a giveaway library!

Yesterday the libraries closed in my community due to the coronavirus.  They will be closed for two weeks.  What can a book girl do, but offer her friends and neighbors books to read.  The idea came to me when I read another friend’s post about the library.  I wrote on her wall:  I have a ton of books I am giving away in the move. If anyone needs something to read. Tell me what you like. I am sure I have something you can read!

But then I thought I really need to put something on my Facebook wall so that all my friends could see. Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook: 

“So with the Library closed, I have an offer. I have hundreds of books I am not taking to my new home. Tell me a topic or a genre you like. I am sure I have a book to give you to get through this enforced peaceful existence. 🙂 PM me. Of course only KC area people. Sorry.  I have children’s books as well!”

The pictures below show my still filled bookcases in my family room and bedroom. At one time most of these shelves were double stacked. We also have more books on a downstairs bookshelf. OF course this does not include the almost 50 boxes of books that have been packed and taken to our new home. Those are the ones we are keeping. But every decision to discard a book came with an emotional quiver. It is difficult to say goodbye to books. Perhaps giving them to someone on edge due to the virus, will make the parting easier and more carthodic.

Books to give away in my family room.
Books to give away in my bedroom.

My husband and I are doing our best to make sure our now unneeded items find good homes and help others.  So sharing books seems to be ideal!  But other items are making their way into the reuse, recycle life!

I packed up five boxes of Lego to donate to the Giving Brick, which recycles Lego back into building sets.  The fixtures and fans we had removed from our new home are now at ReStore which is run by Habitat for Humanity. We have more items to go to them. We are waiting to combine as much as we can in one trip over to the store.  Right now, we have a shoe holder, five air vent covers and am waiting for the old towel racks to come down in the bathroom.

We have bags upon bags of clothes and linens to give to National Council of Jewish Women for a fund raiser. They collect these used items and give them to a store called Savors, who then pays them by the pound for the items. An easy way to earn money.  I think I have seven bags already with more to go.

I have already donated 300 books to my synagogue’s library.  And about 10 more to the Jewish Federation to take on a mission to Bulgaria and Romania that I was supposed to be on.  That trip was cancelled for now, but I hope they can bring the books later, even though I probably will not be able to go.

My offer got immediate responses!  Some of my Facebook buddies took me up on my offer.   My first taker came about 15 minutes after I posted. She wanted a funny novel. 

Another came back with telling me I made a kind offer, and she knew of an organization that takes books for seniors.  Well that is good for me as well.  She had put me in contact with Phoenix Family.  Not sure if it will work out as most senior centers are closed to visitors and probably don’t want books. But there is the future.

A third person with two young boys wanted a puzzle. She knows us. We have tons of jigsaw puzzles.  But most were packed up.  I did have Springbok 2000 piece that needed a new home. It was picked up early this morning from my front door.  

One of our puzzles finds a new home.

Two others requested novels of different genres.  Those I had as well. So two other  books sit on my on my front stoop for pick up. 

It might not be much, but perhaps my books can bring a bit of joy to those feeling isolated and alone. I have many more to share. In fact the photos I put up do not show the bookcase filled with children’s books. Oy being a bookaholic is exhausting when you have to move.

Let me know if you  live in the KC Metro and are interested!

http://thegivingbrick.org/index.html

https://www.phoenixfamily.org/