Thank you to everyone who came together to distribute free books and support our community.
We gave way a total of 21,800 books*. 8,300 books were given away to Westfield Wheaton guests, and the 13,500 remainders were given to Dreamfield International School Ghana Africa.
Our target number was 20,000 books distributed. We were originally advertising that we would give away 22,000 books, but thought that if we said 20,000, that this number would still serve the community; be impressive enough to get people out to the event, while being a bit more manageable.
We ran into several obstacles, which presented us with new opportunities while planning for the event.
A couple of the many challenges are stated below:
1). MCPS School Board wanted to join us in the book distribution event
- MCPS Administrators told us at a later date that they didn't want to participate and that we had to pay to advertise the event with MCPS
2). The event was originally going to be at MCPS Fairgrounds, but when Discover Communications volunteer liasan said that they were looking for a day of service event, we proceeded with pitching Westfield Wheaton on hosting the event, so it would be convenient to Discover Communications.
- There was nominal book sorting in advance of the event and in doing so, it would have been unnecessary work for volunteers and Velocity of Books.
3). Westfield Wheaton graciously donated 1,500 square feet of space. Both the location and the space was impressively convenient. The space had three bay doors, which would make it easy to receive deliveries of pallets, to be sorted. We certainly don't blame Westfield. They need to focus on leasing their space.
- Then the space was rented out and we had to vacate. This left us with no public space to sort books. Volunteers still wanted to come sort regardless if it was at a private residence. So a few pallets of books were delivered directly to our home.
- The owner of the business (an auto detailing shop) who took our space, said that he may consider permitting us to use his space for book collection and distribution.
4). There was uncertainty as to where we could distribute the books at the mall. There is not a large open space, because there are many kiosks. We were assigned a hallway which appeared to be less traveled.
- The hallway was near the kids play area. Many people with young children were able to find us. It is our hope that we will be able to place our permanent book swap station in this area.
- Since we didn't have a location to sort, or stage the books the books, we had three pallets of books brought into the mall to fill the shelves. From there, we pulled the books directly out of the Gaylord boxes, which were conveniently stored in a loading area close to the entrance. With fast thinking, we were able load the books from the huge Gaylord boxes to the Costco shopping cards. From there, we rolled the shopping cards directly to the bookshelves which needed to be filled.
- Mall guests who saw us with the carts of books realized that they could use the carts to get books from the shelves and to their cars. This was a magnificent outcome of being on the lower level below Costco.
5). Dr. Tomi (kids book author) was unable to get people to settle down and listen to his book.
- In the future, we are going to have him man the temporary book swap stations, which will be smaller and be a great venue for him to attract an audience.
It was through the financial assistance of Kiwanis and Westfield that we were able to afford the balloons, helium, printing, face painters, fuel, and all of the materials that went into the event.
Not only was the day a massive success, but I believe we showed Westfield that we are flexible and under various changes, we strove hard and were able to bring about amazing results.
It is our sincere hope that they will elect to permit us to establish a permanent book swap station after they see the success of a temporary book swap station.
We hope that our efforts at this event will encourage other malls to host similar events.
* Previously we were assuming 1,600 books per Gaylord. However the books we've been receiving have a higher concentration of kids books, which take up less room. (We went from 30% adult books to less than 5%)