“I was one of those people who grew up with a book always in my hands,” says Ginger Young, founder and executive director of Book Harvest, a Durham nonprofit.
Wanting all local kids to have the same opportunity, no matter what their parents’ income, she started Book Harvest in her Orange County garage in 2011 to provide books for low-income children in the Triangle.
“Growing up surrounded by books should have nothing to do with how much money your parents make,” Ginger says. “Two-thirds of kids in poverty have no books at all.”
The nonprofit began with Ginger telling her friends she’d collect books they no longer needed and get them into the hands of deserving children. The response from the community was overwhelming. Today, the organization is fueled by thousands of book donors, hundreds of volunteers, dozens of partner organizations, highly regarded annual events like Dream Big, a staff of seven headquartered on University Drive next to Thai Cafe, and a $500,000 annual budget.
“We are completely smitten with our generous community and its passion for this cause,” Ginger says.
In particular, she’s been stunned by the grassroots activism of children. Kids have supported the mission by saving their allowances to buy books and by requesting books in lieu of birthday presents. “Our kids can teach us how to be our best selves,” Ginger says.
This week, Book Harvest will distribute its 500,000th book. Think about that: 500,000 books given away to Triangle children in five years.
Check out the video the nonprofit created to commemorate this milestone – “The Journey of the 500,000th Book.”
As Book Harvest begins working on the next milestone (one million books!), community members are encouraged to run book drives. A book drive toolkit of collection bin signs, posters and template language for emails and listservs is available on the Book Harvest website. Groups planning to run book drives are encouraged to sign up here.