EJ Celebrates National Reading Month with a Book Drive for Kids

Posted on April 11th, 2023

During the month of March – designated each year as National Reading Month – East Jordan’s EJ company harnessed the power of community by inviting staff to participate in a book drive to benefit the Great Start Collaborative & Parent Coalition’s FreeCycle Book Project. The drive was organized by the company’s EJ Social Committee.

The FreeCycle Book Project is a parent-led project that launched 10 years ago with an aim of ensuring access to children’s books for all members of the community. The project supports and aligns with one of the GSC’s four key outcomes: Children are prepared to succeed in 4th grade and beyond by reading proficiently at the end of 3rd grade. 

The success of the project is largely dependent on support from the community, said Savanah Cool, Director of the Great Start Collaborative of Charlevoix, Emmet, and Northern Antrim Counties. 

“The data is clear: Children who have access to print reading materials have better literacy outcomes. The thoughtfulness and generosity of the EJ team is inspiring and uplifting,” said Cool. “Their efforts to increase access to children’s books and promote early literacy in our community is both inspiring and commendable. In this small but impactful act, the EJ team is strengthening families and improving child outcomes.”

The project encourages community members to donate new and gently used children’s books they are no longer using or have outgrown. The books are then collected, sorted, stickered, and redistributed at over 60 locations throughout Charlevoix, Emmet, and northern Antrim counties. FreeCycle Book Bins can be found at many businesses, organizations, and schools throughout the tri-county area. Bins are strategically placed in central locations where families are known to frequent and visit. The book distribution bins are clearly labeled with FreeCycle logos, encouraging families to take books home. The project provides opportunities for all families to access free books which can be used to build home libraries and create early experiences for literacy growth and development. 

From October 2021 to September 2022, the project distributed more than 22,000 new and gently used children’s books. 

How to get involved 

Those interested in supporting the FreeCycle Book Project can donate new or gently used children’s books by placing them in a FreeCycle Book Project donation bin or by reaching out to the Great Start Collaborative at (231) 373-2914 to make arrangements for a drop off or pick up of large donations. Those interested in volunteering to support the project can attend drop-in volunteer days to help prepare the collected books for distribution throughout the community. Financial support is also needed to ensure the sustainability of the project as costs for distribution bins, mileage to deliver books to distribution points, and materials have increased since inception. To volunteer or otherwise support the project, contact Cool at cools@charemisd.org or call (231) 373-2914.

“This is truly a community project, supported by the community, benefiting the community, and creating community,” said Cool. 

Books collected via the EJ book drive will be prepared for distribution and circulated through distribution bins in the coming months. 

To view a list of FreeCycle Book Project distribution and collections locations visit: https://greatstartcollaborative.org/projects 

Photo caption, top of page:

Pictured are Tina Anderson, executive coordinator (right) and Amy O’Neill, human resources manager – corporate, showing materials collected during the recent EJ book drive. 


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