This Holiday Season, Donate a Book and Help an At-Risk Student Succeed

West Hartford, Conn. (November 18, 2016) - Children’s Reading Partners, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the West Hartford Rotary Club are teaming up this holiday season to get new and gently used books into the hands of at-risk preschool and elementary school students. The Greater Hartford Holiday Book Drive will take place November 28 through December 19, with four drop-off locations in West Hartford as well as an online donation option.

Childhood literacy is one of the major predictors of adult success - and the best efforts at instilling reading skills involve both teachers at school and parents at home. However, “educators in the schools we serve tell us that many of their students from lower-income neighborhoods don’t have any books at home,” says Alana Butler, director of Children’s Reading Partners, a volunteer literacy program serving at-risk public school students in Hartford, Bloomfield, East Hartford, New Britain, Manchester and West Hartford. The program is part of the Jewish Community Relations Council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. 

The book drive seeks hardcover or paperback books in new or very good condition, for grades pre-K through 3. Drop-off locations include:

  • Keller Williams Realty, 29 South Main Street, 860.313.0700
  • Congregation Beth Israel, 701 Farmington Avenue, 860.233.8215
  • Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, 860.233.9696
  • Mandell JCC Early Childhood Center, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, 860.236.4571

For after-hours donations, please contact book drive organizer Bennett Forrest at 860.977.3176. Financial contributions are also welcome; every dollar is used to buy books for at-risk students. You can contribute online at

“This is our third year, and we’re looking forward to a very successful event. Last year, the community donated almost 2,000 books. We’d like to double that amount at the least,” says Forrest.

The Greater Hartford Holiday Book Drive – formerly the West Hartford Book Drive – got started in 2014, when Butler gave a presentation to the West Hartford Rotary Club. Forrest, a real estate agent with The Miale Team at Keller Williams Realty and an active Rotarian, was stunned by the number of local children who struggle with reading. He organized the book drive in response.

Volunteers pick up and sort the books regularly during the drive. New books are given to these students to keep; gently used books go to their school libraries. 

“The look on a child’s face when he or she receives the gift of a book says it all,” says Butler. “Our goal is to build a love of reading and learning that will last a lifetime.”

To learn more about the book drive, click here.


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