When recent tornadoes destroyed 262 classrooms and 16 schools leaving almost 13,000 students without supplies or books in Joplin, Missouri, Be the Star You Are!® charity stepped forward to help by spearheading Operation Disaster Relief. Teen volunteers Courtney Cheng and Katherine Kim identified the sources that needed resources. Founder and Executive Director of the literacy charity, Cynthia Brian, who also is the producer and host of the upbeat radio show,Starstyle®-Be the Star You Are!® invited authors who had been guests on the show to help.
“I contacted several of the youth and young adult authors I have interviewed and let them know they could really make a difference for the kids in Joplin by donating resources through our Be the Star You Are!® Operation Disaster Relief. My goal was to get enough books to the district before school started in September, " Cynthia remarked. “Everyone was happy to participate.” Brooks Olbrys, author of Blue Ocean Bob was one of the first authors to jump on board to ship his colorful and inspirational book, relayed in rhyming verse, for ages pre-school to Grade 3. Diana Zimmermanwith her pre-teen fantasy book, Kandide, shipped books immediately and kept asking what more she could do.
Teen volunteers, Steven Zhou, Gaby Gryko, and Vivien Lee sorted, stamped, packed, labeled, and prepared cases of books for shipment. All stated how good it made them feel to be helping other children and students in Joplin. Gaby said how "awesome it was" to have so many great books to share with the school. The teens remembered reading a great many of the books for the younger kids. When the Joplin schools received the donation, they were ecstatic. "Wow! Thank you so much! We appreciate these books and will put them to great use!" commented Kristen Dudolski of the Joplin School District.
When the Joplin Access Family Clinic asked for books for their patients, Be the Star You Are!® again stepped in to help and the authors responded. Cases of brand new books from the BTSYA library were packed and shipped by the volunteers including the charity signature books written by Cynthia Brian, Be the Star You Are!® 99 Gifts and Be the Star You Are!® for TEENS. "Your gifts are greatly appreciated. We are now just learning how widespread the devastating effects of the tornado reached. At our community health center, we are presenting each child a book as they enter the exam room, putting them at ease. The books are helpful," wrote Dr. Debra Davidson, Chief Operations Officer for Access Family Care in Joplin.
A major supporter was John Woods, author of The Return to Treasure Island, who donated 33 cases of this phenomenal hardcover book which follows the story of the original Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island. Other donors include teen author Maggie Mei Lewis with Moonlight Memoirs, Jeffrey Bennett with copies of his Max series, humorist Allen Klein who shipped copies of The Laughter Video and Up Words for Down Days. Friends of the Lafayette Library generously donated seven boxes of wonderful children's books and a local philanthropist paid for the shipping.
As of August 1, 2011, over $42,000 in brand new books, cards, and games have been sent. "Thank you so much to Be the Star You Are!® and the authors. You have been amazing!" responded Joplin recipients.
"A book is like a garden in your pocket. We sure hope we are planting the seeds of hope and growing joy," Cynthia Brian exclaimed. With so much love, September may shine with a bright future for Joplin children.
To make a donation to support Joplin, MO and children's literacy visit Starstyle-Be the Star You Are® 501 c3 at http://www.bethestaryouare.org or http://www.btsya.com.
Author Brooks Olbrys's Assistance: Published Version
Press Release on Operation Disaster Relief: Blog
Causes Cynthia Brian Supports
Be the Star You Are! 501 c3 charity empowering women, families, and youth through improved literacy, positive media, and life skills.