Hurricane Sandy destroyed homes and businesses across the tri-state area. Entire communities lost power and suffered severe damages caused by the wind and flood waters. The path of destruction certainly did not exclude schools and libraries. METRO members from all five boroughs reported loss of materials and damaged infrastructures. Yet offers of support outnumbered calls for help. Among them, METRO member Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company, which stepped up to the plate to relieve some of the burden that Sandy placed on schools and libraries in our area.
Even with its global Headquarters located in lower Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, in the dark and without power for close to a week after the storm, Scholastic began assessing needs of its employees and customers shortly after the winds died down. That's when the Hurricane Sandy Book Grant project idea was born, with Scholastic pledging to donate one million books to schools and libraries devastated by the storm.
The grant process started with a basic online application form. In order to qualify, each institution must have suffered "significant damage," and recipients were required to pick up donated materials from one of three warehouses in the NYC area. Scholastic's project partner, the non-profit organization Kids in Distressed Situations, donated the use of their warehouses in order to make the book distribution possible. On the administrative end, Scholastic divided a wide range of titles into groups according to target age and matching the various age groups with the qualifying institutions. Three trucking companies donated their services to ship the books from Scholastic's main warehouse in Jeffereson City, MO to the NYC area warehouses.
Recognizing that Sandy destroyed not only books, but countless other teacher materials as well, Scholastic has made curated lesson plans freely available to qualified educators via their website. And in addition to book donations, Scholastic includes My Time kits, which contain materials designed to help children work through their emotions during times of crisis. The publisher provided kits to children in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and other natural diasters.
By the end of February, over 150 grant applicants in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut received 650,000 books.
Special thanks to Laura Patterson, Scholastic Book Grants administrator.