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My brother Tom (in Colorado) hoped to get Kids Need Books national recognition and he did a lot of work to make it happen—completed application forms, contacted references, and made a slew of phone calls. I was surprised and touched when he called. Soon I learned that a Boulder, CO, public radio station was interested in KNB. If I made the “cut,” I would be interviewed on the eChievement show that would be broadcast on several hundred NPR affiliates.

I figured this kind of exposure might bring in much needed cash for KNB or perhaps inspire someone else to start their own book distribution program. It seemed worth my time to do the 15-minute conference call with the radio show’s selection committee. And that’s when things got weird.

“The thing that impresses me the most about your program is that fact that you keep so many books out of your local landfill,” the executive director began.

“Well,” I hesitated. “That may be true, but it’s not the purpose of the program.”

“That’s fine,” she said. “But please don’t offer that disclaimer on the air should you be interviewed.”

“Okay,” I murmured.

The rest of our conference call ran smoothly. I spoke about KNB—our mission, impact, and vision for the future. The committee would contact me in week as to whether or not I would be interviewed for the national show.

I awoke very early the next morning with an unsettled feeling and knew I had to write the selection committee. My email to them explained that I would not be able to state unequivocally that KNB kept books out of the landfill. Our city has a very robust recycling operation and unwanted books don’t have to be tossed in the garbage.

More importantly, I pointed out, we don’t hand out books bound for the dump. We distribute new and gently used books. Disadvantaged families want to read the same good quality, current, high-interest books that their more affluent neighbors enjoy. KNB treats its readers with dignity and respect.

Not surprising, I was not picked for the radio show. I did, however, receive a certificate of recognition in the mail. The certificate didn’t end up in the dump. I recycled it instead.

Kids Need Books runs on donations and is part of the non-profit Interfaith Coalition. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

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