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Audra, a Barrington local, has always had a passion for book ownership and reading. As an elementary school teacher, she prioritized reading in her classrooms by making it a fun event and always having a wide variety of books included in her extensive library. Audra also worked as an international operations manager. In this role, Audra regularly facilitated fundraising efforts for global philanthropic causes, helping make an impact in third-world countries.

In 2019, Audra wanted to spread her passion for book ownership. Determined to help build libraries overseas, she initiated a project to collect as many books as possible. She organized book drives, donated her own books, contacted Facebook groups, and spread the word throughout her community.

Audra first attempted to send the books to Africa, however, when the cost of shipping books became too high, she looked for a local alternative. During her search, she discovered Bernie’s Book Bank. Learning about the lack of children’s book ownership in Chicagoland, Audra realized that Bernie’s Book Bank was the perfect fit for her efforts.

“Access to books is huge, I think any child given the correct circumstances will flourish. Any child could be the next astronaut, doctor, or impact maker and I believe books can be the differentiating factor in that.”

Over the past five years, Audra has filled her garage with donated books, with the total count being 6,480 books, making it the largest book donation to date! Bernie’s Book Bank’s second largest book drive collection was in 2023 where the 19th Ward Alderman helped gather 5,800 books. Audra’s hard work and dedication equates to books for 810 local children! We are incredibly grateful to Audra and the Barrington community for helping us create a future where every child has equal access to books and the opportunities they inspire. 

Are you interested in organizing a book drive in your community?. Each book donated has the potential to transform the story for a Chicagoland child. Book drives are a great way to bring your community together, declutter, and give your books a second life. Together, we can create a future where every child has equal access to books and the opportunities they inspire. Contact Carol Collier to learn how you can organize a book drive.