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Groups Serving Kids In Need Can Apply for Free Books

Burlington County College (BCC) is seeking groups in Burlington County serving military, disabled and low-income children to apply to receive new books at no charge as part of a historic effort to deliver 40,000 books to children in need.

BCC is the first college in the nation to partner with First Book, a nonprofit enterprise that provides new, high-quality books and resources to any school or program that works with kids in need as part of a community service initiative aimed at improving reading skills and education gaps.

Students in Chris Gazzara and Kidane Yohannes’ English 101 classes are currently researching organizations and groups that would qualify for free books under this initiative. The students have also started sorting through 500 books, generously donated by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, to help them prepare for the 40,000 books set to arrive on the Mount Laurel campus this spring. As part of the initiative’s service-learning component, BCC students will spend their spring break sorting through all 40,000 books, donated by local publishers and worth nearly $400,000.

“Spring break is coming sooner than you think when there’s a truckload of 40,000 books coming down the road,” said Dr. Beverly Richardson, BCC’s Vice President of Special Projects. “There are many great service organizations in Burlington County and we need to reach them all to let them know of this historic opportunity to get books in the hands of children who need them.”

Groups are eligible if 70 percent of the children they serve are from low-income families or if they serve children with disabilities or children from military families. Programs serving kids from multiple groups are also eligible to sign up. Final eligibility is determined by First Book.

Learn more by visiting www.bcc.edu/firstbook, which has a link to First Book’s application page, or watching this video www.bcc.edu/firstbook/video.

BCC is also partnering with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks in hopes to establish a model for the rest of the state to follow because:

  • Providing books to children helps them read better, more often and for longer periods of time.
  • Giving children books leads to more shared reading between children and parents.
  • Children with greater access to books express more enjoyment of books, reading and academics.

Anyone with additional questions may contact BCC’s Service-Learning Coordinator Erica Franklin at efranklin@bcc.edu or 609-894-9311, ext. 1102 or Vice President of Special Projects Dr. Beverly Richardson at brichardson@bcc.eduor 609-894-9311, ext. 1865.