At a time when our world could use some TLC and generosity, Alana Weisberg has devised a way to give back to her community through contactless book drives and the various pursuits of her philanthropic organization, Bookworm Global, which works to ensure access to high-interest books for children in underserved communities. Many young people these days are passionate about philanthropy, volunteering, and activism to help make the world around them a better, more equitable place. Unfortunately, the pandemic has brought a halt to many traditional avenues for volunteering and philanthropic activities, pressing pause on the change and help our world so desperately needs. Luckily, some altruistic and ambitious students like Alana have been determined to find alternate avenues and workarounds to ensure they continue and perpetuate their commitment to service, especially for the causes and communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
Alana, a Los Angeles teen who always had a love for reading and a heart for service, was made acutely aware of the impact of the pandemic on her local community, where the education gap has widened to an alarming degree. Many students in California who live below the poverty line and have limited access to the materials they need for optimal education and literacy have felt, firsthand, the decline in their educational experience this year. Alana understood that the educational experience and access to reading materials that she and her peers have at their well-resourced private school is a privileged one and vastly different from the experiences of so many other students in less affluent parts of the country right now. It is Alana’s and Bookworm Global’s mission to accelerate book donations and access to literacy-promoting materials, especially during this time, to ensure students who are already in less-privileged situations do not fall further behind.
Initially, Alana started Bookworm Global with her own donations and then expanded to contactless book drives; however, Alana wanted to do more than involve herself and her peers. She also wanted to help spread awareness about these current societal problems and to get more people involved in building a better world through book donations, as well as to create ongoing access for students in lower-income and compromised access areas. Therefore, Alana expanded to lending libraries in partnership with schools in underserved communities. Lending libraries provide ongoing access to high-interest books and series for those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to these materials when their physical schools and school libraries are closed. The gently-used book donations also have a positive environmental impact by keeping used books out of landfills. Alana’s organization even has plans to expand to textbook recycling, which they’re already gearing up for alongside book buybacks.
Ahead of Giving Tuesday, Alana hopes to remind people that there are countless ways they can get involved with their communities and give back, even in the age of social distancing. Contactless book drives and virtual volunteering from home are a few great options, and Bookworm Global is eager to take on more volunteers who would like to further the mission in their own communities. To date, Bookworm Global has donated over 16,200 books, trained 230 volunteers, and wrapped 400 books as Christmas presents that will be gifted to children living in poverty through Watts Learning Center. Bookworm Global has operations in Southern California (Los Angeles Area), Northern California (Bay Area), and Chicago, and Alana aims to grow her philanthropic organization to tackle literacy and education inequity through book drives, volunteers, and school and nonprofit partnerships all over the country.
If you would like to learn more about or get involved with Bookworm Global, you can visit their website here and inquire about current and future volunteer or partnership opportunities.
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