S.P.E.W.’s Successful 2016 Accio Books Campaign

By Rubina Kandiah

Being part of a Harry Potter club, it is safe to say that literature is a very important aspect for most of us. From Narnia to The Shire and Hogwarts to Westoros, a lot of us have visited many different worlds through the imagination of authors. However, not everyone has the privilege or opportunity to read. According to UNICEF, “Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names” and Being to Read states that 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read. Their numbers are growing, which means there are even more of them now. This is a very unfortunate scenario, which is why I am glad to see the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) make their Accio Books campaign an annual event and that our chapter – The Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. – takes part in it every year with a lot of passion.

Every year, we have been having continuously successful Accio Books campaigns. This year was our third campaign with the HPA (the HPA itself was on its 8th annual campaign), and we collected a total of 7,276 books – surpassing our goal of 5,000 books and collecting more than twice what we collected last year (3,226books)! Our first year of campaigning, we had a total of 300 books so we have certainly come an immensely long way from the beginning! We came in second place worldwide for the number of books collected (out of 250+ chapters), and with the winning chapter collecting over 38,000 books, I’d say we did a rather impressive job this year! Way to go S.P.E.W.! We also came in third place worldwide for the total number of points; points were earned by hosting events or by doing different advocacy actions like emailing, writing letters to or calling representatives to request additional funding for libraries.

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The focus this year was on diverse books – main characters being people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, etc. – and we strived to collect as many of these as possible. The HPA chose to donate all of the books this year to Good Shepherd School in Masaka, Uganda, teaming up with a number of other organizations including Books for Africa, the Literate Earth Project, and the American Library Association. On top of that, our chapter, S.P.E.W., chose a local charter school to donate our books to – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Florida. With the high number of books that we collected, we were able to donate to all seven of their different campuses throughout Central Florida. On top of that, employees at Universal Roofing, a construction company, heard about what we were doing and offered to build libraries for the children at their Pine Hills campus. The people in charge at UCP were very impressed with our book campaign success this year and were very grateful to us for choosing them! Several thanks to S.P.E.W. prefect, Bryanna Plantier, for suggesting the school.

With the rising success we’ve been having, I can only assume that we will aim even higher for next year’s campaign. It would be nice to come in 1st place! But more importantly, I am very proud to be a part of a club that takes such pride in spreading and encouraging literacy. May the Harry Potter fandom continue to lower the growing number of illiteracy around the world, book by book.

Accio Books 2016

It’s that time of year again! The Central Florida Slug Club is proud to announce our participation in the Harry Potter Alliance’s Accio Books literacy campaign.

This year, we are collecting books from April 1st-May 18th, 2016 for United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Central Florida. UCP of Central Florida provides tuition-free charter schools and therapy services for children with special needs. A few of their locations do not have libraries, just a few books in each of the classrooms.

Our goal this year is to collect at least 5,000 books in order to help provide books for the students and teachers as well as to promote literacy at home with the families. While the primary need is for children’s and young adult books, we are collecting books for people of all ages. Books donated that are not suited for school libraries will go home with families in need that use their services.

Current Progress CoolFundraisingIdeas.net

Want to donate? Drop books off at the following donation locations or email us at cfslugclubspew at gmail.com to schedule a large pick up.

Further information:

Accio Books 2016 Donation Locations – a full list of our current donation locations (updated March 31st, 2016)

Accio Books 2016 Facebook Event – Invite your friends! Spread the word!

UCP of Central Florida – Learn more about the organization you are helping.

The Harry Potter Alliance  – The Harry Potter Alliance is an international non-profit organization that turns fans into heroes. Visit their website for more information.

 

New Year's Resolutions

Need Help with Your New Year’s Resolutions? Join the Slug Club!

It’s that time of year again when people start thinking about new beginnings. Are you making any New Year’s Resolutions or goals for 2016? If so, joining and being active with the Central Florida Slug Club might actually help you accomplish your goals! How so? Here are some example goals:

  1. Make Friends and/or Get Out of the House More. Making friends as an adult is hard. In school, you always saw the same people in class each year and always had that one thing in common. But as an adult, you don’t necessarily have that. With the Slug Club though, you already know that every single person at our meetups has at least one thing in common – we all love the Harry Potter series. It makes it easier to get conversations started. Even if you don’t say a word during your first meetup or two, keep coming! The more you see the same people, the easier it gets to open up and start talking with new people.
  2. Read More. We have a book club in our group! Book club meets every other month and alternates between re-reading the Harry Potter series (with some members reading it for the first time!) and reading a new book as selected by members.
  3. Learn a New Skill/Try Something New – I guarantee that at some point in the year, you will learn something new at a Slug Club meeting. We’ve had a variety of activities such as knitting your own house scarf, laser tag, cosplay days, and Quidditch pong.
  4. Volunteer. Want to help others and get more involved in your community? We have a subgroup within the Slug Club called S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Everyone’s Welfare) that does community service and activism projects. They’re also a member of the Harry Potter Alliance, an international nonprofit that uses the positive energy of fandom to create social change.12243380_1247831591910240_892006089286919503_n
  5. Get organized. …yeah, okay, we might not be able to help you out much with this, though come find me at a meetup and I will be happy to discuss at length the pros and cons of various planners I’ve tried over the years.
  6. Improve your writing skills. Both our newsletter and blog are always looking for submissions! Write something and send it our way! Also, participate in our book club! Reading the writings of fellow authors helps improve your skills… plus you’ll learn a lot from the discussions about what other readers enjoy and get recommendations on other books to read.
  7. Improve your health. Okay, so our pizza nights probably aren’t the best for this (though they do have vegan and gluten-free options!) But for those who are looking to get more physically active, a number of our members are also in the Hogwarts Running Club. Start a post in our Facebook discussion group and get a group together!
  8. Travel more. There’s at least one Harry Potter convention each year. They are a great way to indulge your nerdy side while giving you an excuse to travel to a location you might not have necessarily visited on your own. (Trust me, I know. New Hampshire wasn’t on my top list of travel locations until I started attending MISTI-con. Now I can’t wait until my next trip up there… and at least 20 Slug Club members are attending next time!)Slug Club and Portkey to Magic at MISTI-con Ball

Have we convinced you? Join our Meetup.com and/or Facebook groups in order to find out about upcoming meetups.

Accio Books 2015 Donation Locations

Want to donate some books for our 2015 Accio Books program? We have donation boxes at the following locations:

Winter Park Public Library
460 E New England Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
Hours: M-Th 9AM-9PM, Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 1-5PM

Regus Winter Park
941 W Morse Blvd, Suite 100
Winter Park, FL 32789
Hours: M-F 830AM-500PM

Leesburg Public Library
100 E Main Street
Leesburg, FL 34748
Hours: M-Th 9AM-8PM, Sat 9AM-5PM

First Baptist Church of Highland City
5410 Yarborough Lane
Lakeland, FL 33813
Hours: 7AM-6PM (Ring Bell)

More locations coming soon! Keep an eye on our blog here or our S.P.E.W. Facebook page for more information. The Central Florida Slug Club’s Accio Books 2015 Donation Drive goes from April 1st through May 30th.

You can also bring your books to any Central Florida Slug Club meetup in April and May, as well as meetups for “Tampa Bay’s Portkey to Magic”, an adult Harry Potter club in the Tampa area, and Nerd Nite Orlando.

All donations will go to Impower, a non-profit mental health and child well-being organization in Central Florida.

SPEW logo                       impower                    HPA Chapters

Sock Drive Success!

Congratulations to our S.P.E.W. group – our first sock drive was a HUGE success!

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S.P.E.W. members raided their drawers for gently used socks, bought some new ones, gathered from friends and family, spread awareness through social media, and set up collection boxes at their schools and places of business. S.P.E.W. Slytherin Hannah partnered with teachers at her school to arrange bonus points and waive volunteer hours for sock donors, resulting in two garbage bags FULL of (mostly new!) socks… and a random bag of clothing.

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As this was our first real project since we organized, Jessica and I set the group’s goal at a relatively low number – 200 pairs of socks. Due to the hard work (and a little bit of cunning) from our members, we finished with a whopping 1,323 pairs of socks for the homeless! Thank you to everyone who helped with this project!

Dobby’s Sock Drive

Dobby's Sock Drive - Rough Draft

The Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. division recently started their first community service project since the group formed over the summer! They are currently collecting socks for the homeless. Socks are the most needed and least donated item (after all, almost everyone, even Floridians, wear socks at some point, but very few people think to donate them.)

Please bring your new or gently used socks (paired or mismatched!) to any meetup during the month of November as well as our ice skating meetup on December 7th. Donations are also accepted in our collection box at the Regus location at 941 W. Morse Blvd, Suite 100, Winter Park, FL from November 1st through December 1st. All socks donated will go to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, who will then distribute it to the homeless using their services.

A subdivision of Central Florida Slug Club, the goal of Central Florida Slug Club S.P.E.W. is to encourage local citizens to get involved in helping out in their communities. We will accomplish this by creating and organizing opportunities for service and recruiting a volunteer force to build and execute them. Similar to Hermione’s S.P.E.W., we are the Society for the Promotion of Everyone’s Welfare, working together to promote a better world in a variety of ways. If you have any questions or wish to get involved, please reach out to our S.P.E.W. organizers at cfslugclubspew@gmail.com.

Accio Book Love!

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.       

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(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).

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  (The balloons outside of the Sassafrass candy shop represented each of the houses present. An omen?)   

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 (Our Flier in the window of Sassafrass Candy Shop!)

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(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.

 

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(The photo of my trunk that is now totally tumblr and twitter famous.)

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(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