Friday, December 19, 2008

First Book, New Books and Disney

First Book needs our help. This year we received a donation of 3,000 books for our children ages 7 - 10. On Monday December 29 we will get a shippment of 5, 607 books, totally free, shipping has been underwritten by the Department of Education. Each of the children we serve ages newborn - 8 will recieve three new books. That's 1,700 pounds of books. Amazing. The post below is a request from First Book for folks to leave a comment about their favorite book memory, for each comment Disney will donate a book to children in need.. There are links below to the First Book Blog. Thanks!
A Call-to-Action: Post a Comment to Help Share the Magic of BEDTIME STORIES!
December 19th, 2008 by Diane N.

At First Book, we’re strong believers that every child deserves to know the magic of bedtime stories — and we know you are too.

Few movies celebrate that magic quite like Disney’s upcoming BEDTIME STORIES – an adventure comedy starring Adam Sandler as Skeeter Bronson, a hotel handyman whose life is changed forever when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to mysteriously come true.

In celebration of the film’s December 25 release, Disney Publishing Worldwide will donate up to 250,000 brand new books to First Book.

Will you do your part and share YOUR story?

Now through December 25, post a comment on First Book's Blog about a bedtime story or memory and, in your honor, Disney will donate one new book to a child in need – just for commenting!

It’s free, takes just a minute and will help make bedtime brighter for kids in need.

Thanks for your help — and don’t forget to buy a ticket on Fandango to see BEDTIME STORIES, opening in theaters December 25!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Toy Distribution 2008

December 1 marked the first day of the BRO Toy Distribution. Where did this snow come from? Snow may slow down the individual clients who are scheduled for pick up. But first on our list is the Gateway Wheeler State School for Severly the Severly Disabled. We gave out toys to 87 children with special needs. This year we tried to meet the requests from the wish list submitted by the teachers and staff at the school. We also provided toys for 125 children at Davis Comprehensive Health Care and toys for 100 at St. Louis Transitional Hope House.

Tuesday we were prepared to provided toys for over 360 children at the following agencies HDC Northeast, Intercommunity Housing, St. Louis Empowerment Center and the Southside Day Nursery.

Wednesday we geared up for about 300 children served by HDC Wellston, HDC Northeast, HDC Ssouthside Gateway Center and Grace Hill Neighborhood services.

Thursday brought in another batch of volunteers and 300 children served by HDC Northside Gateway, HDC Northeast, HDC Family Support Program and Youth and Family Center.

Finally Friday came, another round of volunteers and 250 plus clients from Little Angel Learning Center, St. Philippines House, Family Care of Carondelet and Barnes Hospital. Whew!

Retired teachers from the Northwest R-1 School District in House Springs, Missouri staffed Monday and Friday. It was a new experience for this retired group of friends. We hope they'll join us again next year.

One of our volunteers makes new "formals" for the "reconditioned" Barbies. Each child receives new and reconditioned ( gently used) toys, books, a game or puzzle and other goodies.

Volunteer wood workers make these very classy tool boxes for our little guys.

Soccer Balls and Wiffle ball/bats are an old standby.

Tons of new and gently used stuffed animals.

Three Donna's, all in one place on the same day. It was easy to remember names.

Our First Book Donation ( remember the post about the 3000 books,) packaged for the 7 - 10 year old boys and girls.

Aleeza Granote, (far right) Barnes Hospital, picks up bags of goodies for some of her clients.

Prior to our week long toy distribution we packed and stored toys at a community church for the following agencies.
Family Court 250
Community Helping Ministries 145
West Presbyterian Church 100
Urban League 110
We will also be providing 50 -75 toys for the Youth and Family Center's Winterwonderland Festival.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

5608 Free Books on the way!

More books on the way! Everyday is Christmas at the BRO, we've been giving out toys all week, I'll post more about that later. But we are already gearing up for 2009. I received this email today from our friends at FIRST BOOK


On behalf of the staff of First Book and the U.S. Department of Education, I am excited to inform you that you will be receiving approximately 5608 books (in 73 boxes) from our “DOE Back to School Initiative”!

Due to the generous support of the U.S. Department of Education, these books will be shipped to you for FREE! You will never receive any invoice for the shipment of these books.

Your books will be shipped from Jessup, Maryland. They may arrive at any time during December.

Amazing,.....were not sure exactly which books we will receive but they will be from among the following that were offered in the give away.

Bob Paints the Town (HC)

Pixar Book Bag

Dora: Friendly Flowers

Playfully Pooh

Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf

Thomas & Friends: Going Places

Junie B., First Grader: One-Man Band (PB)

Dora: Friends Around the World

Backyard Adventures

Nick Jr. Book Bag

Sleeping Beauty

Dora: Friends to Find

Weather Watcher

Treasure Hunters

Can't wait for the delivery!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hasbro Gifts of Play Grant

A special Thank You to Hasbro and their Gifts of Play grant, a part of their community relations division. The BRO received 91 assorted toys, as shown in the photos in this blog post. The toys are in the process of being sent out into the St. Louis Community.
Here is an excerpt from a thank you note received from SSDN ( South Side Day Nursery). I love how they describe "play".
"As play is the "work of children", their method for exploring and learning about the world, it is wonderful to be able to provide children with new toys during the holidays. These gifts are truly a dose of positive self-worth for low-income children who may otherwise have to settle for hand me downs.....In effect your gifts will supplement Learning Center educational instruction by developing child creativity during hours of imaginative play at home"
I packed one of these Jeng games along with some other goodies, for a 7 year old living in a homeless shelter, I'm thinking his 4 year old brother will enjoy playing with it, too.
And some of these Yahtzee games will show up at the Winterwonderland Festival given by the 22nd Circuit Cout of St. Louis for their foster families.

These funky little Mr. Potato Head plushies will find their way into newborn care kits. Each will contain, a plush toy, a sampler pack of baby washes, lotions, shampoos, a rattle or other infant toy, and a receiving blanket.

The 4 & 5 year olds will enjoy these cool Transformers

Infants and toddlers will learn about shapes and sorting with this cheery item,

What little girl doesn't like my Little Pony, and this set has two ponies!

Thanks Hasbro for helping us to provide St. Louis area families in need with a happier, brighter Christmas and Holidays.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Check out the gifts our 7 - 10 year olds will be receiving this year. We received 3,000 of these gems, 1500 of each title. Each child will receive one of each title. These fabulous books were a gift from First Book, What a great organization. Our only cost was the UHaul truck rental for two days and the drive from St. Louis, to Granite City, Illinois and back.

We started out thinking we could get these books into the back of a full size pickup truck and an SUV. What a silly idea. We arrived at the Coast Guard Auxillary warehouse and found 6 pallets of books. We were able to get two pallets into the truck and SUV. So, we drove them to Oak Hill Presbyterian Church back in St. Louis and unloaded the SUV, drove to the local Uhaul, rented a truck and headed back to Granite City. The First Book volunteers were great, they loaded the rest of the books with a fork lift and we headed back out. The decision was made to wait until the next day to unload the UHAUL when we would have more volunteers available. The only problem, I parked the UHAUL in my driveway at home, and the neighbors all thought we were moving. " NO just storing 2,000 books in my drive way over night, no need to panic".

Finally all the books were unloaded and they have been packaged together two in a pack, the girls get an extra treat in their bags and the boys will receive a basketball or football. We know that's sexist, but space availablity does not lend itself to allowing a large display for families to choose from a large selection of toys. We will be serving about 3,000 kids ages newborn - 10 years.

Each book retails for $14.99. The total cost of this project to BRO, a little volunteer time and effort and $175 for truck rental and gas. The look on the faces of kids and parents on Christmas morning, we hope is priceless.

Official countdown to toy distribution ....... 6 days!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Old Newsboys Day

Look for the "Old Newsboys" out on the corner, bright and early, Thursday, November 20, 2008. The Old Newsboys Day Charities organization was established in 1957 by Duncan Bauman of the St. Louis Globe Democrat. The Globe is no longer in business, but Old Newsboys Day still lives on, sponsored by the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. Volunteers from all over the city brave the elements and sell a special edition of the paper. The proceeds benefit children's charities in the St. Louis area.

BRO has been one of the recepients for many years. We hope to be included again, in 2009. We received $1,500 last year, which was used to purchase items for the layettes we provided for 500 moms and newborns in need and toys for the 3,000 plus children we serve during the holidays.

Volunteers from BRO will be among the brave souls standing on the corner on Thursday morning. Hope you'll be generous with the volunteers you pass by on your way to work, school and play. ( Unlike the photo above, we'll be wearing shoes, gloves, hats, scarves and heavy coats. Thursday morning lows are suppose to be 19 degrees!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Herbert & Adrian Woods Foundation Grant

A very special "Thank YOU" to The Herbert A. and Adrian W. Woods Foundation, for their very generous gift of $10,000. While the Woods Foundation does not have a website it is fascinating to see all of the wonderful organizations supported by them in the Saint Louis area and beyond.

We intend to use a large portion to purchase culturally sensitive toys and books. Shirley, our retired librarian volunteer, is excited about checking out new books that feature African-American children. We will also purchase African -American dolls and other toys and games that are culturally sensitive.

We also intend to use it toward improvements in our work and storage space. We need some soundproofing between our work space in the basement of the lower level of the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy and the Presbytery's meeting and conference spaces on the first level. We are hoping that the labor can be donated by mission groups from the various denominations in our community.(Renovations to the building occurred several years ago, and asbestos removal was much more expensive than anticipated and the budget did not allow for the finish work to be completed in the lower level.) We are also going to contribute towards replacing insulation and a ceiling in our third floor storage area that we share with the Partners For Just Trade.

Needless to say we are excited by the possibilities that are opened to us with this generous grant. In these troubling economic times it is especially generous and welcome.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wish List for Gateway-Wheeler State School

The Gateway-Wheeler State School for the Severely Handicapped is one of the agencies we are honored to serve. They are located in the City of St. Louis ( 63103) We will be providing toys for 87 children. The children range in age from 6 - 20 years, and have a mental age range of 3 months - 8 years of age. There are boys and girls and many of the children are in wheelchairs.

In the past we have provided toys based on gender, age and mental age. Guessing at what would be appropriate. This year we have asked the staff for a "wish list" of items that were needed by the children, or that would be most appropriate for the children. We are doing our best to try to fill their requests within the limits of our financial capabilites. Would you like to help out?

Here are some of the things we need.
  • Children's Music CDs
  • Baseball hats
  • Children's story books on tape/cd
  • Play musical instruments - piano key board, tambourine, drums
  • Portable CD players/Radios
  • Edmark Reading CD ( K - 3)
  • Rap CDs ( Nelly, Alecia Keys
  • Large See and Say toys ( animals, rhymes)
  • Tyler Perry Movies
  • Woman's Ring size 9 -10
  • Portable/ hand held electronic games
  • Exercise Ball - large
  • bubble machine
  • wagon ( for 8 year old girl, mental age under 1 year)
  • Digital watch ( 17 year old - mental age 8 years)
  • Comedy DVDs
  • Race car game ( 19 year old - mental age 8 years)
  • Posters of sports heroes
  • Scooter board

If you are able to help us out you can email us at or call 314-865-1677 or send a check to BRO 4262 Cleveland Ave. St. Louis, MO 63110. If you are interested in donating thru PAYPAL contact us thru the email address above for our account name.

Our toy distribution begins Monday, December 1 , 2008. We anticipate serving 3,200 + children this year. Keep us in mind if you are cleaning out the kids closets! We'll take those gently used toys and books!

Monday, August 4, 2008

First Book & The USCG

Shake Hands with the U.S. Coast Guard starting July 5!

As the signature charity of the U.S. Coast Guard, First Book announces the Summer Reading Handshake Tour kicking off July 5. This summer, the USCG Tall Ship Eagle sails to West Coast ports of call.

Visitors to the ship who shake hands with the Coasties generate a brand new book for a child in need. The designated ports of call include:

Tacoma, WA July 5-7 11,539 handshakes
San Francisco, CA July 23-28 13,288 handshakes
Los Angeles, CA August 1-4
San Diego, CA August 8-11
Los Angeles, CA August 15-18
San Diego, CA August 20-25

Can't make one of the ports of call,

Help donate books to needy kids by clicking on the First Book Link below.

Learn about the United States Coast Guard Academy Training vessel, The Eagle