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One small group. One big difference

Ann’s Choice residents spearhead children’s book drive

Created date

January 5th, 2018
Ann’s Choice neighbors Lee Berkley (left) and Alma Griffith display a few of the children’s books collected by their Third Tuesday book club.

Ann’s Choice neighbors Lee Berkley (left) and Alma Griffith display a few of the children’s books collected by their Third Tuesday book club.


Late last summer, the Third Tuesday book group at Ann’s Choice, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., launched a drive for children’s books. 

The Patricia Ann Winey Memorial Book Collection honored a former club member who passionately believed that every child should have access to books.

The club is a self-directed group. No one officially chairs it. Rather, its eight members take turns choosing each month’s book and facilitating the discussions. As a result, the titles include fiction, nonfiction, and a varied mix of genres. 

Those eight members constitute an industrious and determined group of Ann’s Choice neighbors. And at a community like Ann’s Choice, eight people can work wonders. 

Making connections

Members first reached out to Jim Sutton, the campus pastoral ministries manager, to learn which local organizations were in need of children’s books. He proved to be a great resource.

The church Sutton pastors, New Britain Baptist Church, near Doylestown, is the distribution center for state, county, and federal food donations to at least 20 food pantries in central Bucks County. 

And besides food, New Britain Baptist distributes books.  

Pastoral ministries did more than suggest book recipients; it also helped promote the project. “Jim’s department supported us by making 1,500 flyers about the drive and stuffing them in residents’ cubbies,” says club member Lee Berkley. 

The flyer read, in part, “Here’s how you can put new and gently read books in a child’s hands.” 

It asked community members to collect outgrown storybooks from their children and grandchildren and to deposit them in special collection boxes in each of Ann’s Choice’s three clubhouses. It also requested checks to purchase new books.

Books galore

The drive hit a chord, and community members responded enthusiastically. “It’s indicative of how things can work when people are passionate about something,” Sutton says. 

Besides donating books, residents donated more than $800, much of which Lee, who moved several years ago from Allentown, used to purchase ethnically diverse books from Amazon and Ollie’s. 

Other club members added their efforts to make the drive a success: one member wrote thank you notes for the checks, but many others helped with the biggest job, categorizing and sorting the books by reading level. 

Former Jamison, Pa., resident and retired elementary teacher Alma Griffith reached out to her church for donations and coordinated contributions from library sales and a vendor in Doylestown. 

Then, because her second bedroom doesn’t get much use, Alma offered it as a book repository, eventually storing more than 30 boxes. Two other members stored books too.

“We received beautiful books,” Alma says. “A lot were brand new.”

The group estimates they collected more than 1,000 books. Some 200 went to Sutton for distribution to food pantries. Others went to organizations ranging from Anne Frank Elementary School in Philadelphia that had a library but very few books, to a day care center and a community center.

“Our residents were absolutely marvelous,” says Lee. “There is a culture of nourishment and kindness at Ann’s Choice. I felt it from the day I moved here.”