Minnesota is far from the nearest earthquake danger zone, and farther still from any coastal hurricane strike radius. That does not mean we aren’t prone to our fair share of disasters. On average, the State sees 4,900 residential fires a year, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. We also see anywhere between 30 and 40 tornadoes touch down during a given year. Unfortunate and unforeseeable incidences like these keep the Minnesota Red Cross very busy indeed.
Divided into five geographic districts, the Red Cross provides an impressive array of assistive services to residents in need. Foodstuffs and blood donations (where needed) are just the tip of the iceberg. American Red Cross supplies everything from medical assessments and psychological evaluations, to relocation assistance, to incidentals like toiletries.
MALF is partnering to add another offering to the mix: reading materials, both for adults and especially for children.
Books may not be top of mind when you think about materials to benefit families who have just lost their home. However, they afford an invaluable distraction for the considerable downtime that almost always follows loss of a home to fire or natural disaster.
MALF and Red Cross are piloting their new donation program in the metro, with able assistance from the Friends of Ramsey County Libraries. Friends recently put out a call for materials to fill two large bins dropped off by the region’s Red Cross chapter for this purpose. One is earmarked for new or lightly used children’s and young adult materials – including but not limited to picture books and early reader primers. The second bin is for new or lightly used adult-oriented materials (with a special emphasis on more portable paperback editions). DVD donations are also welcomed.
When the bins are near-full, the Friends will call the regional Red Cross shelter coordinator to swap them out for empty ones. Tapping into its preexisting distribution network, Red Cross will ensure that the books are strategically located and available where and when needed.
This pilot project owes much to the vision and experience of MALF president Judy Schotzko, a registered nurse and long-time volunteer with the Red Cross. “About a year ago at National Library Legislative Day, someone from New York told me about reading books to children outside of a Red Cross distribution center after Hurricane Sandy,” she recalled. The shelter had no stock of books readily at hand. With proper planning, volunteers thought this easy to rectify – and easy to replicate!
If your Friends of the Library would like to learn more about MALF’s new American Red Cross partnership – and how you can be part of the statewide roll-out of this exciting initiative – reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.