'Tis the season to express gratitude, and boy, do I have plenty of people to thank! Since April, I have been the point person for our Books to Students Fund, an ongoing fundraiser to support students across the greater Seattle area during the COVID-19 school closures.
In our first week of the fundraiser, we raised a staggering $13,000 and since then have raised over $67,000 to donate books to Seattle students. These numbers are truly incredible to me, and the immediate and enormous community support of this project has been so heartwarming during a time that has felt unprecedentedly daunting and grim. As of today, I've boxed up and distributed around 8,000 books to various school districts, nonprofit organizations, and community partners, including Seattle Public Schools, Northshore Public Schools, Shoreline Public Schools, Page Ahead, Reading Partners, the Assistance League of Seattle's Operation School Bell, Mutual Aid Books, Somali Parents Education Board, Lake City Collective, Women of the Diaspora, and more.
I am grateful to so many people who have generously supported this fund from the beginning. Our good friends at Shelf Awareness thoughtfully gave us an in-kind donation of newly released titles sent to their reviewers. Many of our fantastic publisher representatives sent us extra review copies to give out. Many individuals have given us sizable one-time donations. The Seattle Times even included our fund in their article "Seattle-area booksellers, moved by community support during coronavirus shutdown, say ‘indie bookstores will thrive again,’" which spurred an increase in donations after its publication.
But the reason we have been able to continue donating so many books so consistently over the course of the year is because of the many, many people who decided to add $1, $5, or even $10 or $20 to their book order. Every time I process an internet order with a donation, my heart swells: these deceivingly small numbers add up quickly and have allowed us to surpass our stretch goals over and over again. In turn, we can continue to give away books to the students who most need them at a time when escaping into the world of a book can be diverting, formative, and even life-saving.
Therefore, please consider this post to be my deep, heartfelt thank you to every single person who has donated to this fund, however much. Know that you have contributed to upholding access to books for many students who, thanks to you, now have the opportunity to dive into a story. During this holiday season of social distancing, it's easy to feel removed from giving. Let me assure you that your donations and support have prompt and tangible returns for our Seattle students. We are impossibly grateful to count you all as members of our Third Place community, and we hope that you have a sweet, safe holiday full of gratitude for all of the little things in your life that have added up to something momentous.