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White Plains Kicks Off Book Drive for Kids

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Ivan Smith, the Coachman Family Center youth coordinator, sorted through more than 400 children’s books and helped box the books destined for the 100-family shelter and El Centro Hispano in White Plains.

“These books will be used,” said Smith, who explained that Coachman tends to have at least 175 minors in the shelter who stay for an average of 60 days. “A lot of kids don’t read books anymore. They read stuff on the cell phones or stuff like that. When we do give our kids the opportunity to read the books, the parents are very excited, and once the kids get the books in their hands they’re very excited.”

The City Center Barnes and Noble has teamed up with White Plains Reads, a collaboration of 35 plus organizations that match kids with quality reading materials, to run a holiday book drive through Jan. 1. The bookstore has distributed 400 books so far and hopes to collect a total of 2,000 titles, according to Grace Cantwell.

“Research shows that in low-income neighborhoods there is an average of one age-appropriate book per 300 children,” said Cantwell, the community relations director for Barnes and Noble. “This is really sad, but it is also an extraordinary opportunity to help.”

Although the Coachman Family Center has a youth library and a second library collection in its recreation center, the White Plains shelter is always looking for additional reads for the 175-plus youth it serves.

“We have a lot of books that we’ve gotten stocked with programs like this. And several schools donate books to us,” said Smith. “It’s a big help.”

Likewise, Isabel Villar, the executive director of El Centro Hispano, said the educational center hoped to create an informal book exchange system for the more than 300 kids who are enrolled in El Centro Hispano programs.

“They will go to the kids to take home and read and share with everyone in their family. When they’re finished, they will return it to El Centro and recycle them to another kid,” said Villar.

Mayor Thomas Roach attended the initial book distribution at Barnes and Noble Tuesday, where he encouraged residents to participate.

“I don’t think you can overemphasize the importance of children reading,” said Roach. “A program like this which offers these colorful and beautiful books to kids that might not otherwise have access to them can really ignite a flame.”

Are you interested in helping the Coachman Family Center collect books for the holidays? If so contact Ivan Smith at (914) 949-1000 ext. 128 or ivan.smith@westhab.org .

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