Children's book drive gathers donations for schools, charities

May 13, 2001|By Joy Green | Joy Green,SUN STAFF

Susan Harkins and her son, Quinn Hargitai, were on their way to an Orioles game May 5 - with three bags full of children's books in their back seat.

Their last stop before going to the game: the parking lot at Polytechnic Institute-Western High School on Cold Spring Lane, where they joined hundreds of people dropping off books at the annual Baltimore Reads "Books For Kids Day" children's book drive.

"We had lots of books between kindergarten and third grade," said Hargitai, 11. His mother said that although they have donated used children's books to the Salvation Army, the annual collection drive "is a much more direct way to get the books to kids."

By the end of the day, 24,569 new and gently used children's books had been donated to Baltimore Reads, a literacy organization that each year gives thousands of books to low-income families throughout the Baltimore area through a network of schools and the Baltimore Reads book bank.

This year's drive has brought in more than 52,000 books, said Susannah Bergmann, community outreach manager for Baltimore Reads. It's a record for the annual drive, the group's largest single book collection effort. And more are expected to trickle in. "Next year, we may try to get 100,000," said Bergmann.

Schools and organizations for those in need are allowed to select books from the Baltimore Reads book bank on Calvert Street, not far from the group's Read Street headquarters.

"We have given away more books this year than ever before," said Carol K. Eshelman, deputy director of Baltimore Reads. "We're really excited that the people of Baltimore are willing to share the gift of reading."

Among those helping with the recent Saturday book drop-off were Baltimore Ravens guard Edwin Mulitalo and members of the Baltimore Reads Kid's Committee 2000-2001, composed of children from around the state who volunteered to promote the campaign.

Information: 410-576-7323.

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