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.

A Positive Start to the New Year

It’s that time of year again, when we want to get the warm fuzzies from the holiday season and the promise of a new year but outside stressors may be affecting our good cheer – crowds at the stores, family drama, that awful customer who procrastinated their project and now puts a rush on you when you’d rather daydream of candy canes or relaxing afternoons at home…

Over the summer, the Harry Potter Alliance released their Positive Fandom campaign, a list of community guidelines to help make fandom a safe, inclusive, and welcome space for all fans. At GeekyCon 2015, they passed out postcards with these points and a list of tasks that attendees could complete in order to work their way towards a more positive fandom (and one of the coveted ribbon badges.) Each task was relatively easy to complete, but really left us thinking afterwards about how we can apply these to our daily lives.

The Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. team took inspiration from these guidelines, discussed how these affected us, how could use these reminders particularly through the holidays and new year, and came up with a list of four points where we could use improvement: Kindness, Community, Education, and Self-Care.  During this month-long project, we are asking members of our group and the community to talk about what these mean to them, what they are doing to improve as individuals on each point, and post it on social media with #positivecfslugclub. Keep an eye on Slug Club social media (particularly our Twitter and Tumblr!) for member submissions and ideas on what YOU can do throughout the month! We’re dedicating a week to each point; expect to see a new one up each Sunday through early January. 

 

Accio Books 2015

S.P.E.W.’s Accio Books 2015 Drive Would Make Hermione Proud

A couple of weeks ago we delivered the books we collected this year, thus completing our second year participating in The Harry Potter Alliance‘s Accio Books campaign. Last year, we collected over 300 books and were so proud. It was only our first year doing it plus we started with less than half of the campaign left. We expected maybe 100 books.

This year, Central Florida Slug Club’s S.P.E.W. group was a little more ambitious. When the HPA asked us to set a collection goal, we went for 1,500 books – almost five times what we collected in the previous year. Our team went all out, setting up book collection boxes at their jobs and in local libraries, pestering their friends and family, and partnering with other local groups such as Orlando Nerd Nite and Tampa Bay’s Portkey to Magic. (It really helped that the organization we were working with was one that many of our members were passionate about helping: Impower FL, a mental health and child well-being organization that serves five counties in Central Florida.) Our total this year? Read More