By Sheila McCormick

The East Bay Children’s Book Project (EBCBP) helps build literacy – getting books to children with little or no access to them, via teachers, social workers, health care professionals, community outreach groups, housing authority employees, and police officers. Books are provided free of charge to schools, daycare and community centers, homeless shelters, and hospitals. 

EBCBP was founded by Ann Katz and Fern Lehner and some of their colleagues who are former teachers. When several of them retired in 2004, they decided to start the project. EBCBP first operated out of the neighborhood center on Lake Park (where Caña is now), but have since been forced to relocate a total of four times. As of January 9, they are now settled at the First Congregational Church at 2501 Harrison. Enter through the purple door, across the street from the Whole Foods loading dock, 3:30-6 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year. 

Since 2005, EBCBP has donated over 1.6 million books to schools and organizations in need. Where do all these books come from? Ann told me that the biggest donor is Half Price Books – they contribute 30 to 60 boxes of books every week-  but other bookstores and publishers contribute as well. Donations are welcome from individuals, and if you can’t make it through the purple door during their open hours, there are donation boxes at various businesses, such as Piedmont Grocery (on Piedmont) and East Bay Booksellers (on College), and at sites as far afield as Pleasanton and Walnut Creek (see their website for all the locations). Surprisingly, there are none in the Grand Lake/Lakeshore shopping district – perhaps a local business will be inspired by this article to participate? EBCBP has attractive donation boxes ready to deliver.  Donations also come from various book drives organized by neighborhoods, schools, corporations, and even from parties (bring a book to donate). EBCBP tracks all the donations with software that they acquired for free from Salesforce.

Ann said that there are about 40 volunteers. When I visited on January 30, eight were sorting books, but many other volunteers perform other tasks, such as picking up books from the various drop-box locations.

They have 30-40 clients on an average day, and up to 100 on a busy day. There are rules about what each client can take: 5 books from the “Hot Picks” section and up to 50 other books. The books are nicely sorted into categories.

EBCBP has much more information on its Facebook Page and also at www.ebcbp.org, where you can sign up for their email list to be notified of special events.

Please support this effort however you can!

Editors Note:  Sheila McCormick has lived on Haddon Hill since 1988. She is the current editor of the Friends of the Oakland Public Library Newsletter and since fall 2016, has been an editor/contributor to Splash Pad News. She writes Research Highlights articles for The Plant Journal and manages their Twitter Feed (@ThePlantJournal), and is an editor for several other scientific journals. She is a professor in the Plant and Microbial Biology Dept. at UC-Berkeley, and led a research lab at the USDA’s Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany for 29 years.