The latest Compli Cares event was really one for the books. The children’s books, that is.
For those who may not be familiar, Compli Cares is our volunteer program. Every quarter, our team donates several hours of service to a nonprofit organization active in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. We choose organizations that reflect our employees’ personal values and that we believe have the greatest impact on our local community. Previous Compli Cares events have benefited organizations such as the Oregon Food Bank and Neighborhood House.
At our most recent Compli Cares event, we had the pleasure of volunteering for the Children’s Book Bank of Portland.
The organization was founded by Director Danielle Swope, who decided to find a way to make use of the stacks of books her children had outgrown. Inspired by her experiences as a parent and instructor with Teach for America, Dani wanted to ensure that her children’s books made it to the hands of kids who might not otherwise have books of their own at home. So, she contacted a local Head Start program, arranged a visit to drop off her family’s old books, and took her kids on a field trip to deliver them. Within a week, Dani’s phone was ringing off the hook with people looking for the “book lady” and asking to sign up for her “program.” Clearly, Dani had pinpointed a need in her community.
After a few pilot book drives, she discovered the community not only had a need for books, but a supply of their own to give. The missing piece was a sustainable system to get the books off shelves and into the homes of kids in need. And thus, the Children’s Book Bank was created—to engage the community in collecting, cleaning, sorting, and distributing donated children’s books.
Every year, CBB gathers tens of thousands of new and gently used books from the community through individual donations and book drives. The organization coordinates hundreds of volunteers in ongoing sessions to prepare donated books for their new homes by erasing scribbles, wiping covers, and taping torn pages.
That’s where Compli Cares came in. We signed up to spend a few hours restoring well-loved books—and, as it turns out, plunging into nostalgia. Upon arriving, our host Todd greeted us and gave us a quick tour of the warehouse, and then brought us to a work table. The table had stations set up with arts and crafts materials, including erasers, colorful markers and pencils, glue sticks, and spray bottles. There was a massive stack of books on each seat. Before we started, Todd showed us how to clean and renew each of the books. He emphasized “quality over quantity”: it was important that we all take our time, regardless of how tall the stacks in front of us looked.
And then we got to work. We all had a great time reminiscing about our favorite childhood books as we perused through the boxes of books ready to be cleaned for the community.
The really cool part is what will happen next. Once books are cleaned and repaired to like-new condition, they are sorted by grade level and set up, around the warehouse, bookstore-style. From there, volunteers bundle 14–15 age-appropriate books to give out to CBB partner programs such as Head Start and other low-income educational organizations for distribution to children in need here in Portland. CBB believes that giving children a bundle of books—rather than just one or two—will increase the likelihood that they will find a book to spark a love of reading and learning.
Did you know? For children in poverty, one of the biggest obstacles to literacy development is the scarcity of books in the home.
- 13:1 – Ratio of books to children in middle income neighborhoods
- 1:300 – Ratio of books to children in low income neighborhoods
Compli sends our thanks to the Children’s Book Bank of Portland for presenting us with such a special opportunity. We feel honored to have had the chance to support CBB’s continued effort to improve child literacy in our community.
Check back soon for more stories from Compli Cares!