A few years ago, I read a quote that stuck with me: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

Those words have forced me to speak up and speak out about the things I’m curious or passionate about. And Extra-Ordinary Birthdays (EOB) and the Extra-Ordinary Reader (EOR) program are two things about which I’m extremely passionate.

Recently, during a brainstorming meeting intended to plan upcoming social activities in my office, I was faced with an opportunity to speak up about EOB’s Extra-Ordinary Reader program.

Our office committee was in search of a spring social event. The wheels in my head started to turn: Each quarter, we host a birthday celebration to celebrate staff members.

The EOR program had recently launched. What if I could talk the committee into hosting a book drive to commemorate the spring birthday celebration AND collect a large book donation for the EOR program? I’d talked to my colleagues about EOB before, and they were all very supportive and impressed with its mission. So, I figured that they’d be receptive to the idea. All that was left to do was ask. I said to the committee: “I don’t know if this is appropriate or not, but is it possible for us to host a book drive here to benefit my volunteer organization?”

The committee said, “yes.”

I worked with three other committee members to plan the drive. We made a simple request to our staff: donate a new copy of your favorite childhood book, also messaging our need of books for babies and young boys.

We planned to showcase all books received at the quarterly Spring Birthday Celebration and set a goal to collect 100 books over four weeks. With a “goal tracker” we created, we were prepared for a literary inundation.

During week one, we received just 15 books. I was a little nervous; what if we got to week four and still only had 15 books? Week two started a little slow as well. But—somewhere in the middle of that second week—things really started to take off. Colleagues started bringing in stacks of books, some even donating multiple times throughout the drive. It was thrilling to watch our goal tracker change; I think it motivated people to donate even more.

By week three, we were just a few books away from our goal. I was fully confident we’d reach it in time for the celebration. When week four rolled around, we exceeded it, collecting a total of 125 books. I was ecstatic.

Staff were intrigued by EOR and how they could support it moving forward. They shared their book recommendations, on top of referring programs that provide books to non-profits. A few colleagues shared how they got their kids involved, too, helping select which books to donate. They gushed about how fun it had been to participate, as they felt it really boosted office morale.

I’m overjoyed with the amount of books and support received, all of which benefit EOB programs. I have to give special thanks to my colleagues—Caitlin Gdowski, Dr. Jennifer Norton, and Marybelle Marrero-Colon—for helping me organize the drive and providing book recommendations. An extra-special thanks goes out to Caitlin for creating the gauges and updating them each week.

My colleagues were so generous and supportive; I can’t thank them enough. EOB is an organization near and dear to me. I feel very fortunate to work with individuals ready and willing to support it. All I had to do was ask.

BY: Melissa Amos, Extra-Ordinary Reader Coordinator & Volunteer




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