Second annual Book Brigade comes to First Midwest Bank


August 08, 2014 – Shelley Lohr

New and gently used children’s and young adult books will be collected at every First Midwest Bank branch during August, setting into motion the second annual Book Brigade: A Call to Action with a goal double over last year’s collection.

A partnership between Books, Brushes & Bands for Education (BBB4E) and First Midwest Bank, Book Brigade: A Call to Action goes beyond a traditional book drive by taking literacy directly to underserved communities through door-to-door delivery in several Hammond neighborhoods.

“This is an exciting and innovative way of delivering the gift of reading to children who otherwise might not be exposed beyond their time in school,” said Marti Rivas-Ramos, vice president at First Midwest Bank.

Michelle Golden, president and founder of BBB4E, sees literacy as an issue that deserves to be addressed like other base needs.

“It’s time to add reading to the list of basic human necessities like food, warmth and shelter,” Golden said. “Learning to read proficiently allows children to become adults who will have positive contributions to society.”

Each First Midwest Bank location will be host to a Radio Flyer wagon where members of the community can place books through August 31. Rivas-Ramos hopes collection will mirror the enthusiasm of last year’s edition, which saw the goal tripled — collecting over 1,500 books.

“Every child deserves a chance at a good education and this is but a small way of helping them help themselves,” Rivas-Ramos said.

This year, a goal of 3,000 books has been set for the 17 branches.

During the second phase of the drive, to take place in September, books will be distributed door-to-door through 12 Hammond neighborhoods. Volunteers from the BBB4E community and First Midwest Bank will lead a parade of Red Radio Flyer wagons.

“Seeing adults and children alike walking down the street pulling wagons full of books is very inviting the children whose homes we visit,” said Shelley Lohr, who manages BBB4E’s band and choir programs and volunteered during last year’s brigade.

Additional volunteers will be provided by Dockside Services Inc. for its corporate volunteer day.

Book donations can also be done at the BBB4E office, 5920 Hohman Ave., Hammond and Dockside Services Inc., 9008 Cline Ave, Highland. For more information and to volunteer in distribution, call 219-932-3232.