Category Archives: General

Changing the world… one Google click at a time!

Thanks to advertising and sponsored web links donated by Google Adwords, we’ve noticed a significant increase in web traffic and contacts from people and business owners who want to support MagazineLiteracy.org programs. Our most important and mission critical task is reaching more people who want to help to find and support literacy needs in their own communities. Our mission is to connect generous donors of time, magazines, and financial support to opportunities that support children and families learning to read. To-date, we have received over 17,000 clicks from over 1.4 million web ads provided by Google. Together with Google, we are changing the world – one click… one magazine at a time!

Whole Foods KinderHarvest launch is readied for International Literacy Day

Whole Foods MarketTo celebrate International Literacy Day, an event that occurs on September 8th each year, and the start of the new school year, the Whole Foods Markets in Princeton New Jersey and Brighton, near Boston Massachusetts, will join with MagazineLiteracy.org to kick-off the KinderHarvest magazine recycling drive for literacy. These Whole Foods Market locations are the first in the nation to rollout a KinderHarvest magazine recycling drive year-round for children and families learning to read. Wooden harvest bins will be placed in the stores to collect the recycled magazines from consumers, which will be given to at-risk children and families in nearby homeless and domestic violence shelters, and delivered to families in grocery bags at food pantries.

By collecting magazines from those who love to read them and sending them to new readers, the effort combines a concern for environmental issues with a concern for literacy that is resonating with consumers and business owners alike.

KinderHarvest, the first effort of its kind, is like food gleaning, a practice that is thousands of years old, where crops left in the field are gathered by humanitarians to feed hungry people. Except, this harvest gleans magazines that would have ended up at the curb to feed children and families hungry to read and succeed, recycling the magazines we all love to meet local literacy needs. KinderHarvest combines the three R’s of education with the three R’s of recycling to promote the three R’s of magazine literacy: Read, Rescue, and Reuse.

Changing the world – one magazine at a time

The mightiest oak grows from a single acorn; the mightiest wave, from a single ripple. Thus, we’ve changed our MagazineLiteracy.org tag line to – “Changing the world – one magazine at a time,” because it speaks to the enormous power that the contribution of even a single magazine, an hour of volunteer time, or a dollar of financial support can have. As illustrated in one very special letter that one of many very special volunteers received about one boy in a Boston homeless shelter – a single magazine can change the life of a child and bring joy to a whole family.

“Feeding children and families hungry to read and succeed” has not been retired. It’s been moved to a new job as tag line for our national KinderHarvest magazine recycling program.

I stopped by to check on one of our KinderHarvest bins recently and there was only one magazine in it during a period of time that most other bins would be overflowing. The shopkeeper was concerned about it and even apologetic. I explained how tremendously valuable that single magazine will be to a child or to a family that arrives at a homeless or domestic violence shelter with no possessions. One single act of generosity inspires two, or three, or ten. Those inspire two more, or three more, or ten more each. That single magazine sitting in the bin will be noticed by someone who will be curious about why it’s there. Someone who sees it will go home and bring back their wonderful magazines to help fill the bin. It reminds me of the food drives that I’ve been organizing in front of supermarkets for over two decades. We begin in the early morning with an empty grocery cart greeting shoppers on their way into the store. After a short while, a single jar of peanut butter, or jar of baby food, or box of oatmeal is placed in the cart. That catches the eye of new shoppers who put more and more food in the cart – sometimes, whole bags filled with groceries; often, more than they keep for themselves. By the end of the day; we have twenty or more overflowing grocery carts of food for nearby hungry families.

Help us change the world – one magazine at a time!

Kindergarten KinderHarvest Coast to Coast

We now have two kindergarten teachers, Ron in San Francisco and Katie in Boston, organizing KinderHarvest efforts with or for their students, giving us coast to coast activity and representing the awesome power of single individuals who take it upon themselves to make a difference. The amazing thing as that each teacher jumped into action within 24 hours of getting in touch with MagazineLiteracy.org, and as you will see below, have put together comprehensive plans for finding lots of magazines to recycle for literacy. They are wonderfully relentless! Our Boston teacher has connected with another great KinderHarvest leader in Boston, Katie Simmons, forming a collaboration that is already fueling both their efforts.

Here’s an excerpt from our Magazine Literacy Bee blog about Ron’s effort in San Francisco:

Hi everyone! …I teach kindergarten in San Francisco. Recently, my class has been doing a lot of science work in the area of ecology and recycling, so I was trying to figure out a good field trip to support that… last Saturday I hooked up with VolunteerMatch.com and posted that I was interested in helping the environment. Right away they had me linked with the KinderHarvest program, which provides a route for helping us get our schools’ and families’ “gently used” magazines to local homeless kids and youth… we are currently looking into local programs that service homeless kids and families. I even mentioned KinderHarvest to my students yesterday at dismissal time, and they seemed genuinely enthusiastic to get involved. It’s very exciting to think that my students will be getting a unique, hands-on experience in helping reuse products, and thus “saving the earth” in their own small way. Also, they will get the added bonus of actually being able to help in some small way those who need it, which I am sure will be a real awareness-raiser as time goes on.

Here is what Katie, the Boston kindergarten teacher reports:

I would also like to focus on generating magazines for food banks and shelters… Here are some of my ideas for how to gather as many magazines as possible… I have good friends who work at schools that they would be willing to contact their parents’ families about it… I have a friend who works at a local hospital, so I’m sure she’d be able collect a lot of children’s magazines… the library is right across the street from me, so I will check in with them to see if the librarians would be willing to contribute magazines… I have collected quite a stack of extra new and gently used Scholastic magazines over the past year that I would be willing to donate… I will scout out nearby grocery/convenience stores with good collections of children’s magazines…

Here are some ideas from Katie Simmons, a Boston KinderHarvest leader:

I’ve begun to reach out to shelters and foodbanks in my area, and a local Boys & Girls club has expressed interest in receiving magazine – especially with the summer months coming… I have a preschool teacher friend who agreed to have a collection bin. Many of the parents have older children so I am hoping they have subscriptions to donate… I have a friend who is an elementary school principal who will share Highlights magazines… I have made contact with the Children’s Room at the library, which agreed to share their older magazines for children. I picked up Ladybug, Babybug, Cricket and Cobbletone… I have a contact at a nearby hospital that receives monthly mags that would just get tossed or recycled, so she said I am welcome to come by an get them… I will also ask a friend in the suburbs who is part of a babysitting co-op, to email her huge audience to request magazine donations… I would think supermarkets and pharmacies would be a great places to set up a magazine drive!

Let’s get going in all the communities between Boston and San Francisco, and between Chicago and New Orleans!

A noreaster's silver lining

I took a few roads less traveled today thanks to a massive nor’easter that dumped record amounts of rainfall. For two hours I struggled to drive what is usually about 25 minutes to get from one side of town to the other – just twelve miles. Bridges were out at every turn as I made my way north along a river road. I persisted though, first north, then circling back south until I finally found a single open crossing. So the first lesson today reinforced the value of sticking to your goals, working tirelessly, and probing options, until success is at hand.

During the trip, since traffic wasn’t moving well in any direction, I decided to park and run into the bank. I walked right past a gentleman who, although there were few others around braving the wet, windy, cold weather, was sitting half bundled and rain soaked on a park bench in front a favorite local magazine stand. I noticed the man, but as is not uncommon with our hurried lives, I scrambled past him without acknowledgement – in fact, unwilling to notice. Still in a hurry when I left the bank, I walked past him again in the other direction. I could only take about ten steps this time though, and then turned back to greet the man. I asked him if he would like a cup of coffee. “Yes,” he said. “With cream and sugar?” “Yes, four sugars,” he replied. I walked back a couple of blocks to a coffee shop for a cup of coffee, sugar, cream, and a bagel. I brought these to the man on the bench. I looked him in the eye and asked him his name. “Louie,” he said. “Hello, my name is John,” I replied. I was glad to make Louie’s acquaintance in the storm.

I finally made it across to my destination. At that moment, the torrential rain stopped.

Subscribe to literacy

I often wonder about the relevance and lifespan of our youthful magazine-based literacy program.

I was driving up a highway in NJ today and noticed two payphones at a rest stop. It struck me how very quickly that seemingly every person has acquired a cellular payphone for their pocket, rendering roadside payphones both mute. I fully expect that, as bandwidth broadens over cable, phone, and fiber optic lines, downloadable feature-length movies will replace streetside and online DVD movie rentals in a flash. So what of print magazines?

I remain optimistic about the future of coated stock for a number of reasons:

  1. My keyboard smells like food droppings and spilled coffee, not like a bouquet of the latest magazine fragrances.
  2. Magazines in my mailbox and on every newsstand call out to me.
  3. When I close my eyes so that my favorite blogs can speak to me, the room goes illiterately silent (i.e. Johnny can’t read a web page if he can’t read.)

Ours is the first and only nationwide, magazine industry-wide literacy project for children and families. Our mission is to put wonderful magazines into the hands, hearts, and homes of children and families who would otherwise not have them. One of our greatest challenges is reaching people who then sponsor the teachers, mentors, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and other literacy agents who help children and families learn and love to read.

Once, over ten years ago, an executive director of a battered women’s shelter wrote me to explain how children and their moms arrived at her shelter with no belongings, and how wonderful it would be to be able to give each child a magazine with their name on the label. I held on to that letter for all the years up until reaching a point in my own life when I could launch MagazineLiteracy.org. Now, we make the necessary connections possible by inspiring and facilitating donations from individuals, groups, and business owners that sponsor magazines for literacy agents serving children and families in their own communities. But we need to reach more people in more communities to reach our full promise. Join us on this journey… Visit MagazineLiteracy.org to learn how you and your friends and family can subscribe to literacy.

"Send more help to little towns like Pearlington, Mississippi…"

I was listening to the radio this evening and was touched by a story about how small towns swept away by Hurricane Katrina are already rebuilding… it emphasized the need people have to be home, even when that home is a tent, and the bond that people feel when reunited with their neighbors in their own communities… the story ended with a simple, but powerful plea…”send more help to little towns like Pearlington, Mississippi.”

It’s a reminder that, for weeks, and months after the urgent basic needs are met, people are left to rebuild their lives. These people will continue to need our help to make their lives as whole as possible, and we must do everything we can to remember them and to be there for them.