SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — In March, BankRI conducted its annual children’s book drive and finished the month with its most successful year yet, collecting 7,078 books through its 20 branches and corporate offices, with their Wakefield office contributing more than any other with 721, all of which were donated to Providence-based non-profit Books Are Wings.
“This truly is a special community,” BankRI’s Wakefield Branch Manager and Assistant Vice President Brenda Celani said. “For local residents to come together and collect more than 700 books for children is not only heartwarming, it speaks volumes about the importance of helping others and making a difference.”
Books Are Wings, which BankRI has run this book drive for the past 11 years, gives books to children around the state, and to every child at Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School in Providence, and this past year launched a new program titled the “Book Bag Project,” which was created to ensure children could still have access to books while schools and libraries were closed and distributes them through food pantries and meal sites.
Keeping with the times, BankRI offered contactless drop-off boxes in their branches and at their corporate headquarters and introduced a virtual donation option, which allowed prospective donors to purchase and/or donate books found on the “Wish List” on their website.
“This year, in particular, BankRI and their customers went the extra mile to support a book drive that is so important to the children we help,” Books Are Wings Executive Director Jocelynn White said. “We are thrilled by the amazing books donated and the opportunity to ensure children in Rhode Island have access to books no matter the circumstances.”
The Wakefield branch led the way with 721 books donated, a sizable amount of which came from Robin and Thomas Walsh, who brought in five full boxes of books.
“My team and I are humbled by the outpouring of generosity and grateful to be able to support an organization like Books Are Wings and their mission to help kids fall in love with reading,” Celani said.
In particular, BankRI noted the work of other kids and young adults in donating books as a key part of their success, noting that Tyius Tate, a seventh grader from Western Hills Middle School in Cranston donated 189 books.
“We had wonderful support from young people this year from children who cleaned out their bookcases to share with others to students fulfilling their community service hours,’’ BankRI VP of Community Relations Patricia O’Donnell-Saracino said.
Overall, BankRI said that they were proud to be able to offer so many books especially considering the circumstances of the past year and the strain put on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve always known our community to be very generous, and this year’s collection demonstrates just how much people want to go above and beyond when there’s an opportunity to help others, especially children,”
BankRI President and CEO Mark J. Meiklejohn said, thanking those who participated for making the 2021 effort “(their) best book drive ever.”
For more information on Books Are Wings, visit their website, booksarewings.org.