Nearly 800 Books Go Home to Children of Duke Employees

A partnership with Book Harvest enriches summer reading for children of staff

Employees with Dining Services and Facilities Management took home nearly 800 books this summer. Submitted photos.
Employees with Dining Services and Facilities Management took home nearly 800 books this summer in a partnership between Duke and Book Harvest. Submitted photos.

When Julia Anderson arrived home this summer with books in hand for her grandchildren, she barely walked in the door before her 5-year-old grandson, Logan, took notice.

“My books?” Logan asked, looking up to his grandmother.

“Yes, it’s your books,” Anderson said as he handed the orange bag to him.

Since then, the soon-to-be-kindergartener has kept one of the books, “Blue Hat, Green Hat,” with him wherever he goes. Throughout the day, the book travels with him throughout the house, including the playroom, where he has a bookshelf and place to read. Julia Anderson reads Blue Hat, Green Hat with her grandson, Logan. Photo courtesy of Julia Anderson.

The story by Sandra Boynton about colors, animals and clothes has become Logan’s favorite, and reading it has kept him excited to start school at Spring Valley Elementary in Durham this fall.

Through a partnership with Book Harvest, a Durham nonprofit that provides an abundance of books and ongoing literacy support to families and their children from birth, employees with Dining Services and Facilities Management like Anderson took home a combined 788 books to the children in their lives this summer.Tracey Perry of Duke Human Resources, left, works alongside Book Harvest’s Caitlyn Bergmann to organize bags of books that were taken home by Duke employees this summer. Photo courtesy of Book Harvest.

“It was wonderful,” said Anderson, a Dining cashier at the Marketplace on East Campus, who brought home about 15 books for her three grandchildren. “They absolutely love those books.”

The initiative provided extra support during the summer, an especially vulnerable time for learning and accessing reading materials.

“A partnership like this is critical for meeting parents where they are, and not requiring something extra when they are juggling so much,” said Rachel Stine, Book Harvest program director. “It’s making sure kids have the books they need. Especially during summer, we want to accelerate learning and make sure they have a variety of books.”

During events in June and July, staff in Dining Services and Facilities Management picked up bags of books suitable for children of all ages. Each bag included several books, which were organized by grade level, from preschool through high school and with materials ranging from numbers, shapes and animals to novels for older readers.

“Really, what was so wonderful is how excited the employees were to take books to bring to the children in their lives,” Stine said. “We are grateful to Duke for this partnership and look forward to future opportunities to work together.”

Lettica Wolfe, a housekeeping specialist in Facilities, picked up bags of books for her grandchildren, great nieces and nephews. With young readers in her life, Wolfe said the illustrated books provided plenty of entertainment to go along with stories about princesses and animals.

“They picked out some good stories,” Wolfe said. “My grandbabies love animals. I love how they put books in there to prepare for the grade level, so the kids know what they’re getting into that year.”

Lettica Wolfe's 6-year-old grandaughter, Madison, holds one of the books she received from Book Harvest this summer. Photo courtesy of Lettica WolfeWolfe appreciated the availability of books –  a combination of gently-used donations and brand new titles – after much of the previous school year took place online, when in-person events and opportunities to drum up excitement for reading were canceled.

“With what we’re going through right now and not being able to go to book fairs and other events, that is a good thing because some kids are sitting at home, not being able to go to school and participate,” Wolfe said.

Send story ideas, shout-outs and photographs through our story idea form or write working@duke.edu.