In what’s become one of the state’s largest efforts in support of  childhood literacy, United Way of Rhode Island and its Women United group have kicked off their  annual children’s book drive. Throughout the month of May, local businesses, community  organizations, families and individuals are invited to participate in any one of a number of ways. 

Over the past 8 years, the drive has helped to put 216,675 free books in the hands of local children  through its partnership with Books Are Wings. 

“We’re particularly excited about this year’s drive – this is an initiative that our community really comes out for and gets behind,” said Cortney Nicolato, United Way’s president and CEO in a statement.  “Reading, and a love for stories, is something we all can relate to. Unfortunately, too many children  lack access to the age-appropriate books critical to developing proficient literacy skills.” 

A year after the pandemic led to a scaled back collection, the drive now offers a variety of options  for the community to participate in whatever way they feel is most safe. 

Businesses, community groups, and families may host collections, inviting colleagues, friends, and neighbors to drop off books to a designated bin or location. Companies with remote employees may coordinate a drive-through effort, offering a contactless outdoor collection with  United Way and Books Are Wings available to staff the event. And, there’s a virtual option in which books can be purchased from an online Wish List of titles curated by Books Are Wings and shipped directly to the organization. Additionally, there are a number of community drop-off sites: 

Books Are Wings (please call first: 401-475-4882)Pawtucket: 1005 Main Street
Cardi’s Furniture & MattressesWest Warwick: 1681 Quaker Lane (Route 2)South Attleboro, MA: 999 Newport Avenue Swansea, MA: 1 Furniture Way
Centreville Bank West Warwick: 1218 Main Street
East Providence Library 41 Grove Avenue
McQuade’s Marketplace Westerly: 106 Main Street
Pawtucket Credit Union All branch locations statewide
Savoy Bookshop & Café Westerly: 10 Canal Street
United Way of RI (please call first: 401-444-0714)Providence: 50 Valley Street

For questions about the book drive, or to request a book pick-up, contact Lori DiMatteo at  bookdrive@unitedwayri.org, or (401) 444-0714. 

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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. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.