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Kids in Catholic Charities’ After School Program Receive Free Books Thanks to Community Leaders


In 1998, the Immanuel Lutheran Church of Saratoga (ILC) and its Community Service Committee, led by JoAn Lambert and its parishioners, saw the need for vulnerable families to have access to children’s books not just to borrow, but to build a home library of their own.

The ILC formed The Books for Kids team and set to work to gather thousands of gently used children’s books. The Books for Kids team got so good at it, that they were frequently sending books to area schools and shelters, even trucking books to the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico, and shipping them in pallets and containers to Tanzania and Kenya. “Our constraint was not having enough books, but the cost of delivery,” said Lambert.

Matching demand with supply, ILC arranged a collaboration with Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County to provide a steady stream of books to 2,400 elementary school children. “We provide some books to kids, but there are not enough for families to keep them,” said Sara Reyes, Senior Division Director of Catholic Charities’ CORAL (Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning) after school program. “We simply need more books!”

In the true spirit of collaboration, the remaining roadblock of delivering and sorting the books was solved with the assistance of a local company. “I was looking for ways to engage my staff in community activities in order to give back,” said Bob Gavin, Senior Vice President of Bio-Techne, a biotech firm in San Jose. Catholic Charities’ staff connected Bob’s desire to help with ILC’s logistical needs. “Helping sort and deliver books to kids was the right fit for us.”

October 2017 marked the first successful delivery of over 1,200 books by the Bio-Techne team from ILC to Catholic Charities. Cheryl and Jack Moorman of ILC had been storing boxes of books in their garage waiting for a way to get them to children. They said, “we are blessed that we could partner with CORAL and Bio-Techne!” To date, 4,200 books have been delivered to CORAL afterschool programs.

To learn more about CORAL, contact América G. Gomez, Program Director, at aaguirre@catholiccharitiesscc.org.