Thursday, May 7, 2020

On Giving Tuesday, We Gave Thanks. And Books

Judging from the number of emails from various organizations I received asking me to donate, last Tuesday was Giving Tuesday.  At first I thought it was some sort of every-six-months thing, equidistant from the Giving Tuesday right after Thanksgiving, but come to find out it was a Coronavirus thing, because a lot of people need help right now.

My state, Tennessee, has opened back up, though I don't know why as we don't meet any of the suggested federal guidelines. I myself am still quarantining. Back at that start of this mess, in mid-March, I was still coughing hard from the damage wrought by my trip to India, which had ended six weeks previously. Please understand that this isn't really India's fault--no one else on our boat, including all the rest of the tourists and all the staff, got sick from the air pollution, except my husband, who's also asthmatic, and he did much better than me. I wore an N-99 mask most of the time in India, and even then was in really bad shape. I'm a lot better now--no coughing, and I'm exercising again--but the last damn thing I need is the Coronavirus.

So Tuesday, when I went to the post office, I wore my mask again. I had about 200 pounds of books boxed and ready to go out to our Appalachian Literacy Initiative teachers. I print the postage for them here at home, but since ALI ships media mail the post office won't pick it up at my house. (Sometimes I add a first-class package to the mix, and then they do. But also, my postal worker drives a small car, and making her haul 200 pounds of books from my porch to the road and then find room for them among her other mail is not nice.) So all I had to do was dump the boxes inside the post office, which isn't far from my house. Still it was an Outing--I really barely leave the farm these days. These particular books went to teachers in Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina, who have all developed ways of getting them to their students.

I'm so grateful for those teachers. I'm even more grateful to the amazing people who've donated to Appalachian Literacy Initiative these last two years. Thank you, all of you. I stack these brand-new books into boxes and I ship them. The teachers deliver them. You all paid for them. Your work paid for them. I look at our donor list, and I'm astonished, really, that so many people believe in the value of the work we're doing. Students absolutely need access to books, no matter what their family's economic status. I know that to be true. You're giving them that access.

So Tuesday afternoon, when I'd cottoned onto this Giving Tuesday stuff, I thought about writing an appeal. But honestly, times are hard for a lot of people for a lot of reasons right now. We promise to always be good stewards of the money our donors entrust to us. But on Tuesday, sending out those books, and today, two days later, I really didn't feel like asking for more. I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you. All of you. Somewhere, a child is reading because of you.

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