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Boaters for Books Helps Island Children

Editor’s note:  We’ve noticed that boaters are eleemosynary (look it up—it’s a good thing.)  The All at Seam team would like to share reports on things that you, or people you know, do to make life better for others in the Caribbean—and how we can all get involved. Send your story (500 words or less plus high resolution photos if possible) to editor@allatsea.net.

Boaters for Books, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in Punta Gorda, Florida, this year shipped 115 cartons packed with hundreds of reading and library books to schools in Carriacou, Dominica, Grenada, Nevis, and Union Island (SVG). This is the ninth year the group has collected and transported gently-used and new children’s books to the islands. Their efforts are supported by Tropical Shipping, which brings the books from Florida free of charge, and Ann Street Mini Storage, which provides space to receive, sort and pack the books prior to shipping.

In Grenada, arrangements were managed by Anita Sutton of Island Dreams assisting Lillian Sylvester, Director of Libraries, Grenada Library Services. Cartons arrived in Carriacou from Grenada on the Amelia A ferry and were distributed by Natasha Lawrence, assisted by Sherwin Noel and Kennet Alexis.

As always, the Dominica Lions Club managed the distribution in Dominica with Louisiana Dubique in charge. The Union Island books arrived from St. Vincent under the care of Heather Grant, Erika’s Marine Services.

The project began in 2000 with a shipment of primary school materials to Grenada and has expanded ever since, with annual or bi-annual shipments to a growing number of English-speaking eastern Caribbean countries. Islands have included Anguilla, Bequia, Montserrat, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago, in addition to those receiving this year’s shipment. To date, nearly 150,000 books have been distributed.

Donors in the United States come from all walks of life and all professions, but all strongly believe in encouraging children to read. While the main focus has always been primary schools, in recent years, several secondary schools, public libraries, and a community college have received volumes to add to their collections.

This year’s major donors include James Thomas and the Ames Free Library in Massachusetts, Harriet and Tom Linskey, Hands Across the Sea, Inc., Teri Bayus of Pismo Beach, California, the Visually Impaired Club of Oswego County (New York), Mary and Ernie Hamer of Fulton, NY, Edie Smith of Sarasota, Florida, and Jenny Setzer and the children of the Congregational United Church of Punta Gorda, Florida. In addition to these, there are many individuals and service groups who collect and send several cartons of books each year, helping Boaters for Books to maintain a steady supply of books being prepared for the next shipment.

Boater for Books welcomes all donations. Instructions on where to send books, as well as the types of books needed, can be found on the organization’s website, www.boatersforbooks.org. Those in the US who would like to become personally involved in collecting and/or packing books can contact Kathy Oberle, Director, at Kathy1@boatersforbooks.org. People interested in helping to identify schools and their library needs can reach Melodye Pompa at boatmillie@aol.com. For more information:  www.boatersforbooks.org

Submitted by Melodye Pompa, S/V Second Millennium, Caribbean Project Director, Boaters for Books, Inc.

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