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Chance meeting in China gets Books in Homes established in US

Posted on 28 June 2006

A chance meeting while waiting to board a ferry in Beijing led to Mainfreight achieving its long-held goal of introducing Books in Homes to the children and schools of the United States. By coincidence, Mainfreight Group IT manager Kevin Drinkwater found himself talking to a leading American educator as they waited for the ferry in November 2004 . A series of meetings followed and the first two schools were identified. Low decile schools in the US are determined by the number of students who cannot afford to have their own lunch (the figure in both schools was more than 90%), and the children did not have access to their own books at home. Mainfreight Group company CaroTrans provided funding of US$5,000 and the two schools contributed funds as well. The first Books in Homes assembly was held at Ethan Allen Elementary school in late November 2005, where more than 500 students received two books. Ethan Allen is a school that is about 30 minutes out of the city of Philadelphia and is in a very poor area of town. In that same week, Candor Elementary school had its first book assembly, giving out two books to 450 students. Another 900 books were given out at a second assembly in June 2006. The Candor Central School District is a rural district located in southern New York State. 30% of the housing consists of families living in mobile homes and 38% of the adults do not have a High School Diploma. We are hoping that the work we do with these schools will enable us to launch the Books in Homes Programme throughout the USA. However, we are currently trying to keep it manageable while we look for the right people to put a structure in place that will enable the programme to take off and continue to grow. We are looking for someone based in the US with the contacts to get sponsorship for the program as well as a passion for the programme. Books in Homes USA has the potential to be 100 times the size of the New Zealand programme as there is a much higher rate of people in poverty and bookless. If you know of any way you can help, please contact us.