Friday, February 28, 2014

Amy Tan draws attention to a need for school library books in the Philippines after a devastating typhoon. UPDATE: Other ways to help.

The following is from Amy Tan's public Facebook postings reporting a need for good books suitable for kids and teens for the rebuilding of school libraries in cities leveled by a typhoon last November, in the Philippines.

  After she wrote that she'd been asked to spread the word to other authors who could help, her readers offered to make book donations and she confirmed that the organizers would appreciate good books in good condition from anyone willing to donate them.
  See Updates, including donations for shipping costs.

 From her postings:
' Fellow bandmate and author Mitch Albom is in the Philippines, which was devastated in November by a typhoon.  He is helping to resurrect school libraries and, as a first step, he called upon bandmates to donate 10 copies of their books suitable for kids and teens.  Everyone clamored they were in: Dave Barry, Scott Turow, James McBride, Greg Iles, Stephen King, Sam Barry and me.

  He asked if we would forward the plea to writers I knew. The response was immediate, with pledges for books coming in within hours from Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), Alice Hoffman, Harlan Coben, Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Yiyun Li, Robert Haas, Brenda Hillman, Rabih Alameddine, Arthur Golden, Mark Childress, HarperCollins, Billy Collins, Sheila Kohler, Jason Roberts, Lisa See, and more folks, as I write this.  The teachers and kids are thrilled, Mitch said, that they have not been forgotten. '

  It became clear that her readers were, of course, interested in helping, and here are excerpts from posts in reply to questions on what the team would appreciate getting and with information on where to send the books.
' [Amy Tan] - They have NO books, barely enough bricks to rebuild the schools...Books are being sent to a US address and shipped from there...

    [Question: Would they want children's books that are 20 years old?

[Enmei Tan] - If they are in good condition and are good books, I would think they'd be welcomed.  My criteria has more to do with whether they are good books, the kind you would want your child to read if he or she had only a few books to choose from.

    [Question: Where to send books for the kids/teens]

[Amy Tan] - An outpouring of books!  Mitch said to bring it on.  The folks there will be thrilled by the books and the caring.
Those who wish to donate books for kids/teens to help restock the school libraries can send them here:

    Miguel Ramos/National Book Store Philippines
    c/o Starkargo
    150 Shoreline Dr.
    Redwood City, CA 94065

    The National Book Store will then ship them to the Philippines. Thanks to all!
    [Question: Books in English?]

[Amy Tan] - English is one of the official languages of the Philippines.  So books in English are perfect.
  Kids need all kinds of books from all over the world.  They need to read, read, read.  They need to love reading.  That gives them a huge advantage in life.  They need to imagine in all kinds of ways to develop a universal humanitarian mind.

  One last thing: Mitch's request for books was one of many things he is doing.  For example, he donated 40 yellow boats so that fishermen can get back to earning a livelihood and rebuild their homes.

In another posting, Tan listed the books she'll be sending (which will give an idea of the types of books they're expecting) and humorously mentioned what she wouldn't be sending: her latest book.

  "I am donating 20 illustrated children's books, Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat, and The Moon Lady.  I'm also sending 45 copies of The Joy Luck Club and various other novels that I know are read in high schools in the US.  I am not sending them The Valley of Amazement! : )"

Reader Michael W. Perry, of Inkling Books, makes some good suggestions in the Comments area. One was:

  "... Instead of shipping direct... books, you might want to donate money for the shipping costs."

  That's a very good idea, so I used Visa to donate some money and they give you the option to direct your donation to a specific project -- "D.R.Y. (Donated Reading to Youth in the Philippines)" -- in this case, and in the comments area I did specify that it could be used for "the cost of shipping books," but of course they can best decide how to use it.

  The Financial Transparency page explains more and, included in the information, are the statements:

  "No salaries are paid for any of the directors or board members of our charities.
  Every dollar of your gift goes directly into the daily operational needs of the causes and persons profiled here."

  So, if you'd like to help -- you can see what happened to the area in Nov. 2013 via an article below and and now they're rebuilding -- but you don't have school books to donate, you could instead send them something to cover some costs of doing this.  The $-donation page is linked from the red-orange box near the bottom of the page explaining what the D.R.Y. team is doing.

  Commenter Perry also recommended:
  "If you've got a set of printed encyclopedias, you might want to donate those too.  Not every school has a fast Internet connection or enough computers for all their children to use.
  And if you've got a lot of books to ship, the USPS has a special media rate for inside the U.S. that's about half the rate for parcel post."

. Mitch Albom's Donate Your Reading Libraries page.
. The Typhoon in the Philippines and its effects, Nov. 2013

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  1. Take advantage of that California mailing address. In the late eighties I shipped donated books to schools in Bangladesh, India, and Tanzania. Then the USPS had a bulk-rate involving boxes inside mail sacks that went via surface ships. It took about two months to arrive, but it was cheap. Recently, when I checked at the post office, they told me that was no more, that books had to be shipped by priority mail and air.

    I imagine those shipping these books will use a standard shipping container that'll save a lot of money. Put it on a ship that's going straight there and it should be quicker too. Instead of shipping direct, along with books, you might want to donate money for the shipping costs.

    If you've got a set of printed encyclopedias, you might want to donate those too. Not every school has a fast Internet connection or enough computers for all their children to use. And if you've got a lot of books to ship, the USPS has a special media rate for inside the U.S. that's about half the rate for parcel post.

    --Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books, Auburn, AL

    1. Michael, thanks for all these good suggestions. Yes, I imagine it'd be a while before wireless connections are available in schools in the cities affected. I should link this comment along with a link to a news story about what happened there in November (but re those pictures -- at that time, books would have been less on their minds than basic survival (though for many of us, reading IS a survival method)..


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