WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Families and schools hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy are receiving thousands of books from residents throughout Westchester County and Connecticut thanks to a New York City-based company.
“We wanted to do something to really improve the quality of life,” said Literacy in Motion Executive Director Joseph Musso, whose business sponsored five book drives after Hurricane Sandy. “It’s always amazing to see such strong turnout from the community – particularly the ability of the community to step up when others are in need.”
Patrons of the Darien, Scarsdale, Harrison, Greenwich and Ossining libraries donated 16,000 to 25,000 books, with more than 10,000 coming just from Darien.
Musso first called a friend at the Darien Library about the drive and word spread throughout Connecticut and into Westchester.
He rented a 26-foot U-Haul truck, which has now been filled with “a massive amount of books,” and made trips to each library. His plan is to install “four to five pop-up libraries” in food pantries for those displaced from their homes while “a large portion of the books” will go to school libraries and classrooms damaged by Sandy.
Musso worked on this project with his girlfriend and other volunteers at night and on the weekends in addition to his full-time job. The Manhattan resident works as a financial analyst for Newark Public Schools.
Literacy in Motion was developed to “improve access to library books for families by using vending machines” similar to the DVD company Redbox, he said. His goal is to improve children’s literacy and academics, Musso said.
Musso will sort the books to make sure they are in good condition Dec. 15. He hopes to distribute the books to food pantries and schools the week of Dec. 17.
“Our goal is to give away everything we can and give everything we have,” he said. “It will be good right before the holiday vacation, something nice for the kids.”
New York State is working as a liaison on the project, and a moving company has volunteered to help, he said. This may not be the last book drive Musso runs for Hurricane Sandy victims, either.
“If we see there’s a significant demand still, and we’re contacted by other groups interested in both contributing and receiving, then we can definitely do this more,” he said, adding his gratitude for the libraries and residents for the "tremendous outpouring of support."
You can donate to Literacy in Motion, which is looking “to raise $5,000 to pay for storage, transportation and distribution supplies.”