All of us at First Book are deeply saddened to see the horrendous flooding and devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Our hearts are especially with our First Book family: the thousands of Gulf Coast-area educators we serve, their students, and our Team First Book supporters in Matagorda County and Houston. While first responders help families with shelter, food, and water, we know that the next phase of restocking books and resources is just as critical. Books and essentials can support the social-emotional well-being of children following this catastrophic event. Once schools reopen, replacing moldy books in school and home libraries, and providing resources to support a return to normalcy are also needed.
This week, First Book, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, launched a Hurricane Harvey Relief campaign, with support from First Book’s publishing partners. The initiative is part of a new Essentials for Kids Fund – which will support books, educational resources and basic needs items for educators and students at underfunded schools nationwide. We are also continuing to monitor Hurricane Irma to provide additional support as needed. You can read the full news release about this initiative here. First Book is included in Charity Navigator’s approved list of highly-rated organizations responding in the aftermath of the storm.
If you have been affected by the storm and would like to be made aware of financial support to obtain books and resources from First Book, and are not already a member of our network, please sign up here. We will be reaching out to as many individuals as possible to share funds as they become available. There are also very affordable resources available now on the First Book Marketplace and First Book National Book Bank for those affected by the storms or fulfilling the needs of their classroom or program.
First Book and its partners welcome gifts to this fund; 100 percent of donations will support educators. To donate to the fund, click here. Or, you can support the effort by setting up your own fundraising page here.
If you are a publisher or supplier and can help with a donation of new books or resources, click here.
In addition to the support needed in disaster-affected areas, across the country, classroom teachers are spending hundreds of dollars out of their own salary each year to purchase books and supplies for their classrooms. Many teachers also step in to provide the children they serve with basic items to ensure that their students have a warm jacket, socks, and hygiene products such as shampoo and toothpaste.
This Essentials for Kids Fund will support the full range of educational needs – so that children can focus on learning and teachers can focus on what they do best – teach. The fund is seeded with more than $200,000 – including $75,000 from the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, $75,000 from AFT, with additional funding from Coca-Cola, Team First Book Charlotte, individual donors and crowdfunding efforts. AFT has designated $25,000 of its contribution for Harvey-affected educators; 100 percent of the funds from the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation will be used in affected areas.
First Book’s publishing partners – including Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and Penguin Random House – have contributed 500,000 books to date.
A story at bedtime, a change of clean underwear, a new toothbrush. These seem so basic until you don’t have them. Join First Book and partners in helping to rebuild lives: with a donation, and by helping us spread the word so that we can provide support quickly, and where it is most needed.