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South Philadelphia Nonprofit Creates Pop-Up Libraries For High School Students

Tim Whitaker holding some of the donated books. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Tim Whitaker holding some of the donated books. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

Gregg_Cherrie--NEW Cherri Gregg
Cherri Gregg is the community affairs reporter for KYW Newsr...
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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Budget cuts have shuttered libraries at many of Philadelphia top public schools. And when a South Philadelphia nonprofit heard the news, it took action.

Mighty Writers” teaches kids how to think and write clearly through after-school programs and mentorships.  So it’s no surprise that news of more public schools closing their libraries shocked the group to its core.

Executive director Tim Whitaker says literacy and reading are big parts of their focus, so they wanted to do something to ease the burden.

“We decided to create a book drive where we ask people to bring us their books and we would distribute them to the kids in pop-up libraries all around the city,” says Whitaker.

The community has rushed in to help.  In just one week, Mighty Writers has already collected scores of boxes of books.

Whitaker says the books have come from schools in the suburbs, yoga studios, and anyone else who wants to help.

“We’re sort of overwhelmed at the moment with the reaction,” says Whitaker. “It’s unbelievable.”

Mighty Writers distributes the books every day after school at its three locations: 15th and Christian Streets, Sixth and South Streets, and 39th Street and Lancaster Avenue.

“We create shelves right on the street at our location,” notes Whitaker, “so the kids come after school, pick up books as they go, and create a library at home,”

Masterman School principal Marjorie Neff says parents, alumni, and the community have also stepped up to help her school by volunteering to keep the library open.   And Neff says that while she and the students at Masterman are grateful, community action is only a short-term fix.

“The long-term problem can only be solved with adequate funding,” says Neff. “It burns me up that any child in the City of Philadelphia does not have access to a school library.”

You can donate to Mighty Writers by emailing hello@mightywriters.org.

As for how you can help reopen school libraries, Neff suggests that you call your elected officials.