Let’s do a book drive.
It’ll be easy.
How hard can it be?
All of these thoughts and more set us off on our whirlwind journey that was Accio Books, Central Florida Slug Club’s very first act as a bonafide Harry Potter Alliance chapter.
Except we weren’t yet a chapter (mostly due to my unknown technical difficulties, or Computer Granny status, whichever); and in the midst of kicking off, organizing, advertising, collecting, and rooting for our cause, we were also biting our nails while we wished to become a real chapter. Where’s the Blue Fairy when you need her?
The start-up of our Accio Books campaign was relatively painless, considering we only had one month in which to complete it. Find a recipient in need of books. Check. Find a location in which to leave a magical collection trunk. Check. Make Fliers. Check. Advertise and beg for books. Check. Check. Check.
(The collection trunk that we left at Winter Park Public Library. Flier designed by The Harry Potter Alliance graphics team and altered for the Slug Club by your Hufflepuff HOH Melissa!)
It’s not that I ever thought that I would be totally on my own in this endeavor, but the support of the Heads-of-Houses and other prefects has just been out-of-this-world amazing! They have been astronomically essential to the success of the campaign and I can’t thank them enough.
One Sunday at the beginning of May all three Heads-of-Houses and I gallivanted around Winter Park and tacked up book drive fliers (okay, we asked some businesses politely), and they didn’t even laugh at me when I ordered tofu on my dairy-free pizza at Mellow Mushroom, and we didn’t laugh at Stephanie’s mega-awesome lollipop…okay, we laughed a little bit (with her).
(The balloons outside of the Sassafrass candy shop represented each of the houses present. An omen?)
(Our Flier in the window of Sassafrass Candy Shop!)
(We were all totally jelly of her lollipop!)
Yes, there were times that the campaign felt overwhelming, especially as the deadline drew closer and our chapter status still hung in limbo (by the way, we totally became a real chapter, no wishing upon a star required, just a Heather Fairy ;-)). I admit that there were moments when I questioned my ability to head up this project and how I would do for future projects. I also sometimes questioned the necessity of the book drive, especially when I made the mistake of reading a hate article directed at used books which claimed that donating them only unloaded a burden upon the recipient. And from that seedy article bloomed doubt. No, that couldn’t be, our recipient was happy to hear about our book drive in their honor, weren’t they? I tried to push it away from my mind, but there were moments when it crept back in. The afternoon that I spent unloading, sorting and counting the almost 240 books we had collected so far I quietly thought to myself, are we doing a favor, or creating a burden? I told myself it was good, I knew it was good.
(The photo of my trunk that is now totally tumblr and twitter famous.)
(What the books looked like from the inside of their boxes and bags.)
This morning I traveled to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission to drop off our books. It was time for the kids to load up on the school bus, and some of the residents were seeing their children off to school. Of course, in my true fashion, I went to the wrong entrance. It was a good mistake though, because I was able to get more of a feel for the place we where we were sending the 267 books we had collected. There’s only one word I can use to describe the feeling I had while I was there and that word is Love. From the moment I stepped out of my car and the gentleman in the OURM van drove by me with a smile and a wave, to the moment I tried the right door when I needed to use the left door, to the time the resident hall receptionist kindly let me know that I was looking for the administrative offices in the next building, to the encounter with the lady on the sidewalk who cheerfully let me know that I was almost there, to the sweet lady in the lobby who called out an administrator for me, to the administrator expressing her joy when she heard about the books being there and rolled a large cart outside, to the two gentlemen who appeared out of nowhere (okay, out of a nearby OURM van) to help me (okay, they did it all) unload the books into the cart…everywhere and everyone there was full of love. I’m a receptive person and so when I tell you that every moment spent there was buzzing with love and kindness, you can trust me ;-). And the genuine, heartfelt thanks that I was given on behalf of all the hard work that our club had done in collecting these books cleared out every ounce of doubt that I had allowed to enter my mind. I was assured that the books were needed and appreciated, that there is an on site library for the residents and they were so thrilled to be able to add our books to their collection. School is out soon and they were especially looking forward to having some new books for the kids to read. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a few tears of happiness when I left there this morning, knowing the impact that our club had made, and looking forward to working with them again in the future.
“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”
― Mother Teresa