2013-05-10 / Community

Locals Bring Books Back To The Community

By Katie McFadden

Donald D’Avanzo and Frances Locke provides books to locals through the Hurricane Sandy Book Drive. Photos by Dan Guarino Donald D’Avanzo and Frances Locke provides books to locals through the Hurricane Sandy Book Drive. Photos by Dan Guarino One of the many victims of hurricane Sandy was books. In an effort to bring books back to the community, two Rockaway locals volunteer their weekends to hold a book drive and giveaway.

Frances Locke and Donald D’Avanzo both work full-time, but they spend a few hours every Sunday, giving away book donations that they’ve collected ever since November. As a published author, books hold a special place in Locke’s heart and they were her only form of entertainment in the post- Sandy days when the electricity was still out.

Locke and D’Avanzo noticed their neighbors throwing out books that were destroyed by flood waters, so they came up with a way to bring books back to residents that need to replace their personal libraries. Utilizing Facebook, they started the “Hurricane Sandy Book Drive” and began spreading the word across the social media site.

Locke and D’Avanzo started receiving hundreds of books from near and far. They had donations from as far as Canada, Oregon, Washington D.C. and Florida.

“It spread like wildfire online. Even people from around here, locals donated tons of books,” Locke said. Some of those locals include the 100th Precinct and the local fire departments. Locke and D’Avanzo collected the books in their own home, but they got so many donations, that it became overwhelming.

“For a while the donations were taking over the house,” Locke said. With three kids of their own and Locke’s sister and her children living with them after the storm, the house was a bit crowded and they needed another way to store the donations. “When the books overtook the house, it was time to get a storage POD,” D’Avanzo said. The POD now sits in their driveway with thousands of books filling it from bottom to top.

Every Sunday, weather permitting, Locke and D’Avanzo give the books away from the driveway of their home at 209 Beach 101st Street between 12 and 3 p.m. Dozens of residents visit the giveaway each week and some even treat it like the local library and borrow books, which they bring back the following week. With the local libraries still closed or operating out of small trailers and no book stores in the neighborhood, the Hurricane Sandy Book Drive is a good source for people of all ages to find a good read. The only difference is that residents are allowed to keep the books and don’t have to worry about any fees.

In addition to providing books for the community, Locke and D’Avanza have also collected career oriented books for YANA and have restocked local preschools with books.

While collecting donations and trying to organize hundreds of books can be exhausting, D’Avanzo and Locke enjoy giving back to the community. “It’s a lot of running around but it feels good, “D’Avanzo said. They plan on continuing to do the book drive as long as there is a need for it and they are expanding their efforts. They recently held a book giveaway in Broad Channel and they’re working on starting a summer reading program for students to promote literacy.

D’Avanzo and Locke could use a bit of help with their project. They pay for the storage POD out of pocket and they could use more tables to display the hundreds of books that they have. D’Avanzo set up an online fundraiser to raise money to support the book drive. To donate, search “The Hurricane Sandy Bookdrive” on GoFundMe.com or go to www.gofundme.com/2ndv0g. You can also “Like” their Facebook page “Hurricane Sandy Book Drive” for more information and updates.

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