Levy-Lakeside lends a hand to Book Fairies

The Book Fairy is out and about again, this time at Levy-Lakeside Elementary School in Merrick, to collect roughly 800 books raised by children eager to help those in need. Amy Zaslansky, of Bellmore, has been the Book Fairy for the past three years, collaborating with Levy-Lakeside and other Bellmore-Merrick Schools to gather the books.

Book Fairies, a non-profit organization founded by Zaslansky, has raised more than 100,000 books since its launch in 2012. The organization accepts new or gently used books, ranging from children’s books to novels for grown-ups, and later distributes the books to schools in need across Long Island.

Levy-Lakeside’s collaboration with Book Fairies continued this year when the school held a book drive from Oct. 13 to 19. Against the wall in Levy-Lakeside’s foyer were stacks of books neatly packed in more than 10 boxes. “The kids are very excited to participate in the book drive,” Levy-Lakeside Assistant Principal Allison Banhazl said. “They come in with their books ready to donate to a child less fortunate than them.”

Zaslansky said that not only are the children helping raise books, but also they are learning a valuable lesson. “Kids are able to understand that these books go to those who are in need in the surrounding area, “ she said. “They’re able to understand that there are areas around them that aren’t as lucky as they are to have a simple commodity like books.”

Book Fairies donates books to schools where more than 50 percent of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch. Usually books are donated to schools by the box load, but Book Fairies tries to host several free book drives at schools.

“We coordinate free book drives with four to six schools on the waiting list, where each child is eligible to take two free books home,” Zaslansky said.

There are currently more than 20 schools on Book Fairies’ wait list. Zaslansky said Book Fairies’ warehouse in Freeport is filled with enough books to distribute to all schools on the list; however, volunteers are needed to help sort the books into their different genres.

“Some of the kids here at Lakeside have actually been to the warehouse to help sort the books,” Zaslansky said. “Kids go in there for about an hour and help out. There’s no commitment. Any time given helps.”

Not only are the kids helping the Book Fairy collect and sort books, they are also donating handmade bookmarks to either be given at the free book fairs or paired with boxes of books that will go to several different schools.

“The kids really enjoyed making the bookmarks,” Banhazl said. “They’re all proud of what they’re accomplishing.”

Although Zaslansky has helped many children and families along the way, she remains humble through it all. Her mother, Ellen Link, is proud of her daughter’s accomplishment. “When you have children and you raise them, you hope they turn out to be decent human beings, and Amy’s gone so far beyond that,” she said. “She took an idea, worked out of her garage and then got awareness for it. She started this journey, and I’m just awed by my daughter.”

Press source: Merrick Herald