Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love libraries? Help save them!

My love affair with the written word started at home, with my Mom reading to me, but it came to full flower at the local library. As a kid, I spent countless hours there, lost in Nancy Drew mysteries while my brother pored over the adventure tales of Robert Louis Stevenson and Mom browsed magazines we couldn't get at home. Then we'd all load up with books to take home. To this day, I'm still a big library fan, especially of the Lincoln Public Library at Twelve Bridges.

The library is a source of fun, entertainment, and education. But not everyone realizes how much the local public library has changed to keep up with the times. (Alas, my brother thinks they're just dusty repositories of old books.)

Public libraries offer more than just books. They offer free computer use and Internet access (a key resource for those who can't afford or don't get web access at home). Libraries offer movie rentals and screenings, music CD check-outs, children's programs, support for seniors in various programs, and a range of free or low-cost seminars. And they are a key help in job hunting. Add the e-books, classes, homework help, tutoring, and so much more that the library does and you start to see how vital a role the library plays in our education system.

Sadly, libraries are in danger of closing their doors, largely due to city budget cuts. And that means our communities are losing access to one of their key support and education facilities. We can all help, but there's no time to lose. Take your kids, your parents, or your grandparents to the library, organize a read-in, or just make a donation. Hey, if you'd donate to save the polar bears, why not donate to save a library from extinction? We don't want to lose either, but losing a library could have a much bigger impact on your own community.

Get involved
Visit your local library and ask if they have a foundation to which you can donate or a 'friends' group you can join.

My local library in Lincoln has a wonderful and supportive group, Friends of the Lincoln Public Library (FOLL), that is doing all it can to help our library keep from having to slash hours. There is an ongoing book sale (by FOLL) inside the public library you can always drop a dollar into. Coming up this Saturday: FOLL Book Sale, Feb. 26 (from 10-5) at 485 Twelve Bridges Dr, Lincoln, CA, (916) 434-2410. And there's a fundraising dinner on March 12 ($50); they don't yet have a way to donate online, but you can send a check, made out to FOLL's Save Our Library Fund, to Friends of the Lincoln Public Library, PO Box 394, Lincoln, CA 95648.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good work: give a coat, share the warmth

Who doesn’t need a nice, warm coat in this winter weather? Even California, with its relatively mild winters, has been slammed this year with extra-cold and rainy weather. That’s one reason the coat-donation drive sponsored by Burlington Coat Factory has been extended through FEBRUARY 13. When you think about the people (adults and children) who might otherwise have to suffer through the rest of this winter without a warm coat, and how easy is is to simply go through a closet and gather up gently used coats you no longer wear, it’s easy to realize it’s time to donate a coat.
Get involved
Join Burlington Coat Factory’s campaign (in partnership with Good Morning America and One Warm Coat) to gather coats for kids and adults. Check their website for a store near you and simply drop coats off there; you’ll get a nice warm feeling in return (and a 10 percent discount in the store). On the website, you can click to hear compelling stories of need. (In the Sacramento area, go to the Citrus Heights store at 6145 San Juan Ave.)
Disclaimer: Note that we don't endorse any organization, but we encourage you to carefully look into any group to which you plan to donate time or money.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Good work: help public radio

It sure has been fun pitching in on the morning volunteer shift for the call-in pledge drive (ending today) at Sacramento's Capital Public Radio. Okay, maybe I'm not as big a help as I'd hoped to be. At times, I feel like a cross between the Verizon guy ("can you hear me NOW?") and a frazzled trainee at a call center in Mumbai ("say again, please? Can you spell that? Smith? oh...").

See, between my phone headset (not the equipment's fault, I'm sure) and the background noise in the pledge room, I can't always hear my callers easily. But they are unfailingly polite, generous, and supportive— especially of Capital Public Radio (which airs National Public Radio and more, including great local coverage). My callers have their faves among programs, including hits like Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me; A Prairie Home Companion; Fresh Air and also local talent and reports (from Capital Public Radio News to The California Report). And I'm really enjoying chatting with them. But I dare not dawdle.

"The last day of the pledge drive can be a real madhouse," says Art, an experienced volunteer sitting across from me. "The calls come in hot and heavy, so be ready." I brace myself, and inadvertently hit the HOLD button. Oops. "One year, we hit the pledge drive goal early," says Bob, another volunteer veteran, "so the staff came in and we popped a few champagne corks. Not the expensive stuff, though," he noted (a non-profit, public radio does watch its expenses).

At the end of my shift, I can say that, it's been a joyful experience for me, if not always for my patient callers. But next year, if I really want to help out, perhaps I'll just send a check instead of showing up and behaving like a bad Lily Tomlin routine ("Is this the party to whom I'm speaking?"). It may help Capital Public Radio more.

Get involved
Donate online to (year-round, you don't need to wait for a pledge drive). Or mail a check to: Capital Public Radio, 7055 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95826. And if you forgo the Thank you Gift (ie. a thermos, DVD, and such); that way, more of your donation goes to the organization.
Or to find/donate to your local public radio station, go to NPR and hit 'Find a Station".

Harder: Volunteer to help take calls during the next Pledge Drives; check online at or to find your local public radio station, go to NPR and hit 'Find a Station".

Disclaimer: Note that we don't endorse any organization, but we encourage you to carefully look into any group to which you plan to donate time or money.
COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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