Bank Rhode Island (BankRI) recently wrapped up its annual children’s book drive to benefit Books Are Wings. 

During March, the bank collected 7,078 books through its 20 branches, corporate office, and operations center, making 2021 BankRI’s most successful book drive. In Middletown, the bank’s local branch was among the effort’s top performers, generating 463 books. 

“We’ve always known our community to be very generous, and this year’s collection demonstrates just how much people want to go above and beyond when there’s an opportunity to help others, especially children,” said Mark J. Meiklejohn, BankRI’s President and CEO in a statment. “Thank you to everyone who contributed and helped to make this our best book drive ever.”

Local residents rallied around BankRI’s 11 th annual Children’s Book Drive, with nearly
500 books collected at the bank’s Middletown branch, filling 5 large boxes for Books Are Wings. Statewide,
the drive led to 7,078 books – the bank’s largest collection ever.

For 11 years, BankRI has partnered with Books Are Wings in support of the organization’s mission to put free books in the hands of Rhode Island children. This year’s collection offered both drop-off and virtual donation options.  Along with contactless collection bins placed in its branch foyers, BankRI encouraged virtual participation through an online “Wish List” of titles curated by Books Are Wings.

“We had wonderful support from young people this year,” added Patricia O’Donnell-Saracino, VP of Community Relations for BankRI in a statement, “from children who cleaned out their bookcases to share with others to students fulfilling their community service hours.”

Spanning from Woonsocket to Middletown, BankRI says that its members of the community made a number of sizable donations. Tyius Tate, a 7th grader at Western Hills Middle School in Cranston, donated 189 books, while many customers dropped off significant donations to their local branch. In Wakefield, Robin and Thomas Walsh contributed five large boxes, helping the branch lead the effort with a total of 721 books collected.

“This year, in particular, BankRI and their customers went the extra mile to support a book drive that is so important to the children we help,” said Jocelynn White, Executive Director of Books Are Wings in a statement. “We are thrilled by the amazing books donated and the opportunity to ensure children in Rhode Island have access to books no matter the circumstances.”

The books collected will reportedly support a range of Books Are Wings programs and reach children throughout the state. Books will be distributed to each child attending Mary E. Fogarty Elementary School in Providence, and will also benefit the organization’s Book Bag Project – an effort created to ensure children could still access books when schools and libraries are closed. Through the Book Bag Project, Books Are Wings safely distributes books to families through food pantries and meal sites. Additionally, the organization will provide books to students prior to summer vacation through its school partnerships.

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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.