Books From the Heart

Every month, more than 1400 books are distributed to hospitalized children in Northeast Indiana.   Each book is delivered by a small cart powered by the strength of a volunteer and the love of an organization’s heart.  Kate’s Kart is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide a comforting diversion for hospitalized children and their families, and to promote a love for books and improved literacy, through the gifting of new books.  The organization was created in honor of Katherine Anne Layman, who at birth was diagnosed with a “broken heart”.  Her love of books while in the hospital were the inspiration for the first book cart.  The organization has seen unbelievable growth. Since the death of Baby Kate in 2008, more than 50,000 books have been donated  to children in 16 Northeast Indiana hospitals.  The organization’s impact is enormous.

I didn’t know much about Kate’s Kart before I sent the introductory email.  I had heard of the organization, but I had no real knowledge of what they did.  That is what I love about Impact 52.  It introduces us and exposes us to new organizations that are unknown to us.  Each week is a learning experience.  We learn about great organizations and meet the wonderful people behind them.  Our experience with Kate’s Kart was no different.  To be a volunteer with Kate’s Kart, you must meet certain requirements.  First, you must become a registered volunteer at the hospital in which you want to work and complete the appropriate orientation.  Second, you must be at least 16 years of age. Third, you must pass a drug test and criminal background check. Lastly, you must have updated TB tests.  The safety and the health of the children is the priority so all of these items are extremely important.  We were looking for a one-time volunteer experience as an introduction to the organization.  We were pleased to hear that Kate’s Kart offers family and group activities that happen outside of the hospitals.  This allowed us to get volunteer, learn about the organization, and dip our toes in the water.

We met Krista from Kate’s Kart at Barnes & Noble.  Our job……pick out books to be bought.  It was like the ultimate shopping spree for the book lover.  We ravaged the children’s section like a bunch of vultures.  We grabbed every kind of book we could get our hands on.  Dora the Explorer, Super Heroes, Thomas the Train, Disney Princesses, word searches, stickers books, and activity books to name a few.  We filled up five large carts with our selections and proceeded to the checkout.  The books were purchased and loaded into our car.  We took the books home, sorted and organized them, and put a Kate’s Kart sticker on the back of each book.  In all, we handled 644 books during our experience.  We boxed them back up and delivered them to a storage unit where they will be prepared for a future ride on one of Kate’s Karts.  The tasks performed were easy and enjoyable for the whole family.

Nonprofit organizations could learn a lot about engaging families from Kate’s Kart.  There are many organizations that do not offer one-time nor family volunteer opportunities.  They want you to dive in, jump through all of the hoops, make a commitment, without knowing much about the organization or the mission.  Kate’s Kart gave us the opportunity to be introduced to the mission through a short volunteer experience.  That brief introduction was enough to inspire us to consider doing more in the future.  Kate’s Kart is an organization you need to support.  They are continually in need of new book donations, gift cards, and monetary gifts.  Get involved today and help children receive books from the heart.

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