M. Holland Community – the charitable and volunteer arm of M. Holland Company – kicked off 2017 with a donation of time and books to Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Bluff, Illinois.
Approximately 20 M. Holland employees, along with members of their families, split their time between two shifts on January 7 as they prepared and sorted new and gently used children’s books, which had been sorted for their target grade levels, and placed six books of assorted genres into bags. These books will be distributed to local schools and at-risk children in the coming weeks.
Bernie’s Book Bank, founded by Brian Floriani in 2008 and named after his late father, distributes 12 books a year to underprivileged children in the Chicagoland area from birth through sixth grade. While the organization currently focuses on Chicago, there are hopes to expand the program nationwide in the near future.
A study of reading literacy in the United States showed that 61 percent of low-income families had no books in their homes for children. As Bernie’s Book Bank notes on its website, reading is the single most important skill a child needs to learn.
“There were two reasons that this felt like a perfect fit,” said Regulatory Specialist Christopher Thelen, who organized the event. “First, Bernie’s is a charity that currently does its work right here, in the community we all call home. Second, on a personal level, I love to read, so it just seemed natural to give our time to a place that is trying to cultivate a love of reading and learning among children.
“I especially liked how M. Holland team members brought their kids with them to help out – it helped show the next generation how good it can feel to give of yourself, without expecting anything in return.”
Other volunteers shared the enthusiasm of their involvement. “I thought it was a great experience,” said IT Project Manager Katie Cibulka. “It was a little effort to create a giant impact for kids in and around Chicago. I loved that this was a kid-friendly activity allowing all ages to be part of this great cause!”
What surprised Thelen the most was not the response he got when he asked for volunteers, but how many people asked when they would be returning. “I’ve always known that our company is filled with people who are generous with their time and talents,” he said. “But, even I was surprised at what a positive response I heard from our volunteers.”
M. Holland will continue to collect books for children from birth to sixth grade, and they will be periodically delivered to Bernie’s Book Bank, Thelen said. “We might get an informal group together to volunteer again in the late spring – not an official M. Holland Community event, but just some people who happen to be coworkers who want to assist a worthy cause.”