Olivia reached out to the WSWHE School Library Services and MultiMedia departments for ideas of how to get the ball rolling to meet the need for books for the BEARS (BOCES Educating Autistic and Related Disorders Students). She then took to social media. The response was incredible! What started as a modest idea of asking for input turned into more than she could have asked for, as people have been wonderfully generous in donating all kinds of children's books to help fulfill the need.
“I knew we needed an abundance of books. I also knew the books needed to be free and in good shape,” stated Olivia. She continued by saying, “I have a wonderful network of friends on social media, so I created a post to see if people would be interested in donating. I also posted on free "pay it forward" social media platforms. Within minutes, I received offers for bags, crates and totes full of books. Some offered money to purchase books at the local library.”
Over the December break, with help from friends and family, Olivia drove to a few dozen homes to gather books and magazines. Sorting and gathering continued. She created a stamp for the books to show the love that went into acquiring them.
Two of the BOCES librarians, Karin Howansky (SLS) and Alicia Makenzie (MultiMedia), visited Olivia in early January to help sort through some of the donations and put them together for delivery.
With the help of the Operations and Maintenance team, the boxes with almost 2,000 books will be delivered to all of the BEARS classrooms throughout the BOCES. More books keep coming that need to be sorted and boxed up for another delivery time. She’s anticipating close to 4,000 books will be collected in the end.
The WSWHE BOCES BEARS programs are designed primarily for students who have a diagnosis of autism, and are in grades K-12 and up to age 21. These programs serve students with disabilities resulting in multi-sensory or motor deficiencies and developmental lags in language, cognitive, affective and psychomotor areas.