BankRI book drive helps stock Books Are Wings

BankRI book drive helps stock Books Are Wings

PAWTUCKET – After seeing a depleted supply during COVID-19 shutdowns and quarantines, Books Are Wings has finally started to receive books donated to them from the annual BankRI book drive that happened in March.

For the last 10 years, every March, the 20 branches of BankRI and its Lincoln Operations Center partner up with the Pawtucket-based organization for the book drive. Patricia Saracino, BankRI vice president of community relations, said that normally the book drive would go on for a lot longer and the bank would bring in teams to sort through the books and divide them into different age groups.

But this year has been anything but normal, she said, and the book drive only lasted for two weeks before things shut down and bank hours were reduced.

“We thought maybe we could continue the book drive in a month or later on in the year as we had no idea how long COVID-19 would last,” Saracino said. “Then we decided to count the books and get the books out to the kids for the summer.”

Between the 20 branches and the operations center in Lincoln, BankRI collected a total of 1,618 books.

Over the past couple of weeks, the books were collected and delivered to Books Are Wings, 1005 Main St. in Pawtucket. Jocelynn White, executive director of the nonprofit, said she and others had been giving out books that they’ve had in their inventory as well as trying to buy new ones.

“We didn’t stop distribution,” White said of life during the shutdown. “We kind of took a few weeks to see what the world was going to look like and then we got clearance from the Department of Health to distribute books in plastic bags.”

While school was still in session through virtual learning, the organization created The Book Bag Project. Books were packed and sealed and kept for 72 hours before distributions at various meal sites. Overall, Books Are Wings distributed 14,386 books to 25 school departments and community organizations throughout Rhode Island.

Inventory had been running low, but the group now has books just in time for summer programs.

“It’s actually pretty amazing,” White said. “I spoke with Patricia and she reached out to the branches and said we had 1,500 books during the first call. I was not expecting that number.”

White said that the donations from BankRI add up to a great start and now organizers feel it is time to open up for appointment-only book donations. They ask for books for young people from babies to teens. Contact the center at 401-475-4882 or email Kim Nelson at kim@booksarewings.org .

Join the Summer Book Bunch to gain access to literary resources and get free books. The programs include Grab and Go Books, Weekly Virtual Read Aloud and Books for Meal Sites. For more information or to join the Summer Book Bunch, email jwhite@booksarewings.org .