Since 2008, nonprofit organization Link to Libraries has served kids in need all across Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. President and Co-Founder Susan Jaye-Kaplan helped start the organization to give kids opportunities to explore our world through books and expand their horizons.
Recently it has become so much more.
Link to Libraries is making use of the basic needs items on the First Book Marketplace and supporting kids beyond providing access to books.
“Link to Libraries is known primarily as a book donation and distribution organization,” says Susan, “but we give far more to our target audience — students in need. We distribute combs, dental hygiene kits, bilingual bookmarks, and more.”
Though books and educational materials are important, basic needs items are also essential for students if they hope to make the most of their education.
One student who participates with Link to Libraries had to miss time at school because of dental surgery, time that can be critical to their development.
“The fact is, this child’s teeth impacted their ability to go to school and learn. If they had had all the dental care products they needed, maybe this doesn’t happen” says Susan.
The basic needs items available through the First Book Marketplace all have an effect on a child’s education. Coats are essential for getting to and from school during winter months. Non-perishable food items prevent kids from losing focus when they get hungry. New t-shirts mean children can play during recess and not worry about a stretch here or a stain there.
Susan knows just how far these kinds of items can go for a child in need. She grew up in a difficult environment and situation herself. She wants to pay forward the kindness that she received as a child growing up in Boston.
“I was fortunate to have had Mrs. Bolton, an assistant librarian at the Boston Public Library, as a child,” Susan, now in her 70s, recalls, “she would bring me all the new books that came into the children’s room and on occasion an apple or carton of milk. My siblings and I sat there after school for many years as it was a safe and warm place to go. We were able to travel the world by reading those wonderful books and yet we never left that couch in the library.”
Thanks to Link to Libraries, many kids will see the world through books and have everything they need for the adventure.
Susan and Link to Libraries are doing impactful work using basic needs items and if you serve children in need, you can too. Please visit the basic needs section of the First Book Marketplace to learn more.