Deserving Communities Receive Books Thanks to Ramapo Readers Group

The Ramapo Readers book collection is further expanding after its creation in the fall of 2009, years after Dr. Kim Lorber, associate professor of social work at Ramapo, received an email about donating books to New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

"I envision families reading and learning together, not just on their computers and playing," said Lorber.

The collection is a social work project to collect books and donate them to underprivileged and deserving communities.  

The project started with one student volunteer, a small faculty office and 700 books piled from the floor to the ceiling. Lorber later began to look for space because the hundreds of book donations soon turned into thousands. More students wanted to volunteer, and the small faculty office would not hold.

"I pictured something everyone could do, be productive, play music and bring friends," Lorber said.

The Ramapo Readers then moved to the basement of the Birch Mansion, where they have now received over 86,000 books since its start, averaging 6,000 per semester and 12,000 per school year.

Gianna Acevedo, a student leader running Ramapo Readers, said that they receive a variety of books of several different genres and age levels. Once they receive a donation, she and student volunteers place them in different age and grade appropriate piles. The books get stamped, boxed, labeled and then shipped to Paterson public schools.

"When I first heard about [Ramapo Readers], I was interested because kids didn't have access to books and that's sad," said Acevedo. "Books are a big part of learning and not having them is unfortunate. This all means a lot to me, and it's close to my heart."

Lorber called her student volunteers "amazing" and a big part of how the project took off. She said that it was the students that got furniture for the office and came up with ways to keep track of the books, categorize them and ship them.  

Ramapo Readers' book donations come from local community organizations, libraries, professors and students.

Lorber said that it's a great social service because Girl Scouts have also been involved, and professors have made it a part of CEC.

Lorber recalled a little girl's reaction that reminds her of the importance of this particular social work project.

The little girl was asked why she was so excited and replied, "Today is the day I get to pick a book and keep it!"

This is the type of active social service that Lorber lives for and the type of legacy she hopes Ramapo Readers brings.

"I dream of a kid saying, 'I went to college because of the Ramapo Readers book that I kept so close to me,'" said Lorber. 

She went on to say that the mattress you sleep on does not define richness, but that richness thrives in having books to read. 

"I want to raise the next generation of students with the magic and wonder of imagination all from a gently worn paper book," she added.

The Ramapo Readers are expected to pass a total of 100,000 book donations since its start, so they are looking for volunteers. To help donate or volunteer, contact the Ramapo Readers at