Jim White worked at Volunteers of America for over 30 years. But, when he decided to retire that didn’t mean that he was ready to stop helping others. He decided that his retirement would have a purpose. During his time working at Volunteers of America, Jim had always loved working with arc Thrift stores and with Food Bank of the Rockies. He decided to go out on his own and do some good with the help of these two nonprofits. That is when he created his own nonprofit project, “Books and Bites,” a literacy project of arc Thrift and Food Bank of the Rockies.
Arc Thrift receives a lot of book donations but not all of them get sold. Books that go unsold go to the warehouse to be recycled properly after their time on the shelf. Jim noticed a number of high-quality books that were about to be recycled, and decided they could serve a better purpose.
One of the programs run by Food Bank of the Rockies is called “Totes of Hope.” This program gives low-income children backpacks with a meal for themselves for the day, and a meal to feed their family over the weekend. Three to four thousand of these totes go out to families in need every week.
Jim decided arc’s books would find a perfect home in the hands of children receiving a Tote of Hope. He started sifting through some of the books in arc’s warehouse and found many children’s books and chapter books. He took boxes of them to Food Bank of the Rockies and placed them into the backpacks so that these children were sent home with a new book. Food Bank of the Rockies brings these backpacks to 53 different schools around Colorado, 50 of which are elementary schools and three of which are middle schools. Some of the teachers will come to pick up the Totes of Hope and place specific books with their students to make sure they fit the correct personality and reading skill.
Jim begins his process at the arc warehouse where he picks through big barrels of books about to be recycled and finds high-quality books at the reading levels for elementary and middle school kids. Sometimes Jim finds bibles and religious books that he brings to meal sites hosted by Volunteers of America for bible study groups.
Jim only started this program on Valentine’s Day of 2018, and in just over a year he has given away 36,512 books. Some days there are so many books to bring to Food Bank of the Rockies, Jim calls in friends to help him bring the donations. Once he finds the best books to donate, he brings them to the Food Bank of the Rockies where the next step of his process begins.