Even compassionate citizens who are trying to donate the items that the Border Patrol claims it is in dire need of are being refused. It has made me feel powerless to stop the mistreatment - many would say abuse - of these migrant children.
But aside from writing my senators and representatives to object, I realized that there is one thing I can do: help the families that are being released.
I finally saw one good piece of news regarding these families seeking asylum on NBC. The piece talks about how citizens from one of the poorest towns in our country have stepped up to help those families who are being released by the Border Patrol to go to their sponsors and await their asylum hearings. When Border Patrol started leaving families in front of their local McDonalds, the community opened their hearts and created a humanitarian shelter to help these families get started with everything from basic supplies (most arrive with nothing but the clothes they are wearing) to guidance on where they are, and how to get to their sponsor families.
In the piece, I learned that Save the Children has also stepped in to assist these shelters by setting up two of their disaster-proven programs: Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby Areas. The segment included an interview with actress Jennifer Garner, a board member of Save the Children, who was visiting the shelter. And one image, in particular, stood out to me...
There aren't that many books in the background. And none - well, maybe one? - of them appear to be Latino children's literature. Most are (I'm assuming) translations of popular children's books. Because I can't imagine that any of these kids arrive knowing English. Bilingualism is surely a luxury in the countries from which they are fleeing.
So I reached out to Save the Children and guess what? They're desperate for new Spanish-language books.
They want to use these books in the shelters where they have set up their Child-Friendly Spaces and Mother/Baby areas. In these areas, their staff and the parents will read to children during the short time that they are at the shelter. Save the Children would also like to be able to send a book along with as many children on their journey to their sponsor family as possible.
I know that books don't seem like something these families urgently need. Most of you may be thinking it's more important for them to have basic necessities such as soap, clothes, diapers, etc. The shelters are receiving lots of these donations from the community and independent organizations.
But books are important to these children also. Many of them have never been read to. Why? Because books are a luxury when you are suffering and fleeing from violence and poverty. And a book is such a treasure to the families because it represents something that they are trying to attain: Hope of a better life for their children.
A better life includes a good education to lift them out of poverty. And a good story is a precious gift to a child because it sparks their imagination, encourages them to dream, and can even motivate them to pursue that dream as they grow older.
The Book Drive
So after talking with Save the Children, I've decided to host a book drive for these migrant children and their families.
The nonprofit is urgently seeking new books in Spanish for children anywhere in between the ages of 2 and 18. These books will be used not only in their shelters to be read during storytimes by their bilingual staff, but we would also love to be able to receive enough books to send a book along with as many children on their journey to their sponsor family as possible.
Currently, they have around 200 children and their families coming through the facility each day. Save the Children has made a 2-year commitment and expects to serve between 10,000 and 50,000 children each year.
So you can see how ambitious our goal is - we'd like to get as many books as possible.
And we invite you to join us, not just in donating books, but in sharing this drive with all of your family and friends.
If you need ideas for which books to purchase, I've created an Amazon gift list with a variety of Spanish titles. If you purchase from this list, the books will be shipped to our receiving center for these shelters and Save the Children.
If you are an organization or publisher and would like to make a large donation of books, please contact me for more information. Save the Children is a nonprofit and is happy to provide you with a letter for your tax deductions.
Thank you ALL so much for your compassion and kindness for these children and their families.
I am so delighted at the remarkable response I've received to the book drive. I spent the weekend responding to messages from:
- individuals wanting to donate books,
- individuals who have already bought and donated books off of the Amazon list,
- authors and publishers who have agreed to send books ASAP!
And I'm also excited to have the #latinaboomermom, Maritere Rodriguez Bellas join our team! If you live in California, be on the lookout for ways to donate books in person. Follow Mari here!
UPDATE 7/3TEACHERS! GIRL SCOUT LEADERS! And INDIVIDUALS!
Are you thinking of choosing the Migrant Children's Book Drive for your group's community project? Or thinking of celebrating your birthday with a book drive?
We have free flyer templates for you to use. Click here to download them.