Tuesday, 27 May 2014

9,512! No Way!!!

Hello Readers

As I sit here now, still in my pyjamas at midday and home from school...because apparently limited sleep, stress over organising the logistics of a book drive and a total of 24hrs of lugging heavy boxes around a storeroom over 3 days...is not the formula to a healthy immune system; all I can notice is the absence of books in this room.

Maybe its because I have spent the past few days in a warehouse with thousands upon thousands of them and haven't been able to look in a direction without a book in it for days, or maybe its because I am a nerd, and the first thing I notice upon entry into any room is whether or not there are books in it.

It is with great pride, that I can now announce, that thanks to the support of our amazing members who rallied their friends and families together to donate books, to schools such as Barker College and Cronulla High School, to the people that drove all the way to Turramurra to drop off their books from Strathfield, Newcastle, Coogee, to Ruth at Kids Giving Back and the attendees of Cook for Good, to Booktopia and their generous contribution, and finally, to our members - who all went above and beyond expectations in spending hours of their own time selling, sorting and boxing books day after day without complaint...that we have not only reached our goal of 2,000 books...but raised 7,512 more.

Mischief Managed to our first campaign, and an amazing effort from all :)

Due to the sheer amount of things that have been happening in relation to Accio Books since day 1, it has been difficult to write a blog post talking about any one thing...because there are simply so many things to say...and very little time to say them in. So now, I will attempt to piece together all the amazing experiences that have culminated in our final count of over 9,000 books.

As a relatively new chapter beginning our first campaign, our sights were not originally too high. We had discussed in awe the amazing achievement of Edmonton Potterwatch last year in collecting 7,000 books but knew that realistically we could not expect that much. Still, not wanting to be un-ambitious we decided on a 2,000 book goal, still believing we would be lucky to reach that amount. How wrong we were.

We allowed ourselves a month to collect books - and stored them all in our downstairs room as they came in. What started as a small pile soon grew - with our first major donation form Barker College giving us over 1000 books. After putting flyers in the letterboxes of people on our street, we received many donations turning up mysteriously on our front porch. Everything from Disney to fact books about snakes - we received books with titles so strange they made you wonder about the author. It was an amazing feeling to be able to walk down stairs and see that many books at once - no feeling compares.

After the allotted month of collections had transpired, we found ourselves with around 3,500 books in the downstairs of our house. Next step...was sorting them. Harry Potter style, we organised a sorting ceremony and 14 members spent the entire day at our house sorting books, packing them in boxes, labelling each box with its genre and the amount of books inside it, before hauling it upstairs for the courier.

As our members arrived, they brought with them another 1000 books to be sorted: special mention to Liz who came all the way from Coogee with around 400 books (after holding a brilliant collection point in her cupboard), and to Alice who awoke at the crack of dawn to drive and pick her up.

With some clever signage, we sorted the books according to their genre - Zoe was the brains behind some 'interesting' sign designs - with Gilderoy Lockhart featuring on the Non-Fiction sign.

and then it was time to pack...

As true book nerds, we didn't deny ourselves the opportunities to marvel at the most absurd of titles, having a competition to see who could find the weirdest. It was a close tie between Iguana Love and Granny's Purse :)


Exhausted and in need of some entertainment, we settled down to watch the first Harry Potter movie: quoting it the entire way and having long debates as to inaccuracies in the adaptation and our opinions on certain events and characters.

However despite the fact that Accio books was 'officially' over, books kept rolling in. We received a MASSIVE donation from Jennifer in Newcastle who dropped off her books a week later. A local, Ellie dropped off almost a hundred books in near perfect condition, and Laura gave us the largest amount of popular teen fiction we had ever gotten in the same donation.

After another donation of over 400 books from the attendees at Cook for Good, we had reached a total of just over 5,000 books.

This brought us to the event that we had been anticipating for weeks...the HUGE Booktopia Clearance sale that would leave us with our largest donation yet, as well as a significant donation to contribute to The Deluminators' funds for future campaigns.

As a thank you for our members and us working as staff at their clearance sale (wearing our own t-shirts and promoting all the way) - we would receive 10% of the sales, as well as any books that did not sell.

So The Deluminators collectively rolled up their sleeves from 8am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday of last weekend and worked tirelessly without complaint. Unpacking boxes of books, restocking shelves, directing customers. Despite aching feet and sore muscles, we had members coming in both days - and we cannot be thankful enough to all those amazing people.
But of course...it was a book sale - and the ability to spend a weekend surrounded by around 50,000 books could not be passed up. And all our members went home with a selection of their own purchases as expected.

As the flow of customers slowed from a full on tsunami to a gentle ripple, we began to pack up the leftover books into boxes to be collected by the ALNF.

Things had been running smoothly for so long that it was about time we hit a bump. The ALNF informed us that they had too much general fiction and only needed childrens and teenage fiction because their storage facilities were running at full capacity. As far as problems go, this was a great one to have - at least the ALNF had plenty of books to give to remote communities. So we simply changed our plan of attack and only packed up the childrens and teenage fiction left over from Booktopia's sale.

We managed to also get onto another organisation, The Footpath Library - a charity that distributes literature to the homeless around Australia. They were in need of more non-fiction and self-help books - genres that were in huge supply following the warehouse sale.

Though our members had already spent all of their weekend at the warehouse, many dutifully came back on Tuesday afternoon/night for six hours to finish up the packing until 9pm.

Pumped up with Krisby Kreme Donuts, Pizza and music, we made it through the night, and it was with weary sighs that I was greeted upon announcing that we were done. 

And then it was with weary happiness that we were informed that the Footpath Library could accept another 10 boxes of mens fiction - so we hurried down to the warehouse to rescue some more books before they were moved back into storage or thrown away. Having some fun as we packed and labelled, leaving the books in a secure state for the courier the following week.

Though I miss being in a room so full of books that it is possible to lose sight of all the other people in it despite there being about a hundred. I am glad that we have achieved what we set out to do, supplying those within Australia without the access to literature that we take for granted. As I stood in that warehouse, surrounded by thousands of books - all i could think of was Liesel from the book thief, and how much she would have given to see so many books - hopefully we have given the Liesel's within Australia a chance similar to that which she got upon entering the Mayor's house.

On a final note, this week in Australia is known as reconciliation week. The anniversary of the week in which the 1967 referendum was passed, allowing Aboriginal people to finally be counted in the census, the Mabo Case, one of the first successful fights for land rights in Australia's history, and also a time of year that we remember the national apology promise made by Kevin Rudd in 2008. This is a week where people around the continent are encouraged to consider the vast indigenous population within Australia - and the wrongs that were done in our past. It is a chance to right old wrongs and seek a better future. What a fitting time in which to donate 6,899 of the books we collected, to reducing the education gap in Australia through the ALNF's 'Share a Book Endeavor'. I encourage you all to consider the implications of reconciliation this week and help our beautiful country move toward this better future.

Mischief managed guys. Congratulations to all who were involved.



Kids Giving Back

Like all things in their early stages, the beginning of our chapter has also gone hand in hand with a lot of doubt. Yet nothing has given us as much reassurance that the vision we have for the future of the Deluminators is a good one, than the amazing request by Kids Giving Back, that I be the guest speaker at one of their events for 12/13 year olds.

It naturally took a lot of time for the idea to sink in, that we were actually doing enough good that what we had to say could be beneficial to others. As far back as I can remember, guest speakers have always been such interesting and amazing people, to be one myself seemed obscene and rather ridiculous.

The more I got to know Ruth, the co-founder of this charity, the more I began to understand the areas in which our charities met middle ground and what made what I had to say relevant to their aims. Kids Giving Back was started by Ruth and Carole under the same philosophy that we had started The Deluminators with, that they wanted people - especially the next generation - to understand that what they did could directly help people in need. That they have the power to do good, outside of a gold coin donation. In the years since they begun, Kids Giving Back has run many different events, they organise family trips to volunteer abroad, hold book drives and many other endeavors. The event however, that I had the honour to speak at, is known as 'Cook for Good'.

Cook for Good is an event that Kids Giving Back holds regularly at the 'Big Kitchen' in Bondi - where young kids / teenagers / their families come in and spend the day cooking and packaging meals for the homeless. They then go out and give the meals directly to homeless shelters and places in need. The recipients of Sunday 25th May's meals were:

• Vincentian House, a crisis accommodation and case management service for families and women http://www.vinnies.org.au/vincentian-house-nsw

• Rough Edges, a cafĂ© for Sydney’s homeless community www.roughedges.org

• Wayside Chapel Cafe provides low cost meals and beverages to the homeless and other community members. While the Cafe's meals are not free, they are extremely affordable. This is consistent with the Wayside philosophy of a hand up rather than a handout.  http://www.thewaysidechapel.com/nomad-cafe.php

• Jewish House, a non-denominational safe haven open to any member of the public in need. Jewish House assists in a wide range of circumstances, ranging from someone requiring a counselling session to requiring a bed and a roof over their head. http://www.jewishhouse.org.au/

• Oasis Youth Support Network provides a place of safety and care where young people can find refuge in the inner city. http://salvos.org.au/oasis/

Due to the amazing work that this organisation does, it was with some nerves that I addressed the group of teenagers and their families and told them of what The Deluminators does, of the power of the written word and its ability to translate to the real world.

Not only this, but Kids Giving back helped us promote our book drive and even held a small collection point at the event, where over 400 books were donated by the attendees.

Thank you so much to Ruth and everyone who attended Cook for Good on May 25. It was an amazing experience and I am so thankful for this incredible opportunity


Friday, 9 May 2014

Thank you Cronulla High

One of the most amazing and rewarding parts of running such a wide and multi-faceted campaign such as Accio Books is the opportunity to get involved with people who you otherwise, never would have been in contact with.
It is with immense pride that I thank Cronulla High School for their wonderful role in our collection. It is amazing to have student and faculty alike, joining together in our cause. This book drive truly will change lives. Our aim from the start was to supply books to remote indigenous, refugee and marginalised communities in Australia so that everyone within our country can have the same chance at an education and a chance to better themselves. How fitting is it then, that schools such as Cronulla high, band together for our common goal of education.

Here is a short message from the students at Cronulla High School:

We are at Cronulla High School and recently participated in the HPA's The Deluminators' Book Drive. Sian, year 8, writes: I personally was surprised at the effort put in by students, parents and teachers. The enthusiasm of all the participated was astounding. I'd like to thank my teachers and the school for bringing this opportunity to our school. This was a great experience for all involved, as in total Cronulla High donated 407 books. These books covered all ages from bedtime stories to five hundred page biographies.
I loved the experience of participating in the book drive as well as counting all the books, seeing what people had donated and taking photos as the collection progressed.
Kirra, year 8, writes: This is a great program, which I hope has collected lots of books for the people who need them. Thanks to all in our school that put in load of effort to make the book drive a success.

Our book drive is in its final stages. I am truly honoured to have spent so much time with such committed people during this campaign.