By Ukee Washington

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some Philadelphia volunteers that help hundreds of teachers could use a little help themselves to bring books to kids big and small.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, boxes of books are sorted and stamped at the Jacoby Book Bank inside Martin Luther King High School. It’s effectively a low-cost bookstore for teachers, part of the Philadelphia READS program.

“Most of the teachers in Philadelphia are required to buy their own books for the classroom,” explained Philadelphia READS program manager Whitney Unis. “And as we know, many of the schools don’t have libraries for them to access.”

So for $20 a year, a teacher can pick up as many as 350 books from the Jacoby Book Bank.

Last year, Anne Keenan started volunteering as the Book Bank manager. “I just love the fact that more children in Philadelphia are going home with books,” Anne said.

And it’s lots of books. Last year, the program distributed 68,000 books to hundreds of teachers. Organizers say the book bank can save a classroom as much as $4,000.

“Every time a teacher comes in who’s new, they say, ‘I wish I knew about this before,'” Whitney said.

But now the Book Bank could use some help of its own. Right now, books are leaving faster than they’re being replaced.

“So we need the books,” Anne said. “You’ll look at some of these shelves and they’re a little sparse.”

They would love more volunteers and more donations of new or very gently used books, especially baby books to donate to community organizations.

“If we had brand new books on all of these shelves, I think that would be the nicest thing we could do for the teacher,” Whitney said.

Anne says it’s worth every second of effort. “I absolutely love it. I go to sleep every night with a very happy heart.”

Donors can drop off at The Jacoby Book Bank Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. It is located at 6100 Stenton Avenue off the Haines Street parking lot.

 

Ukee Washington

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