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Literary Activism: How To Help Texas’s Recovery

Though many parts of the Lone Star State are still without consistent power or safe water, other parts of Texas are finally seeing a sense of normalcy return after a climate crisis. Following a devastating snow storm and cold temperatures, people throughout the state lost electricity and potable water, exposing them to long periods of cold weather without adequate tools to prepare for it. Many lost loved ones, and still others across the state lost their homes and belongings as pipes froze and burst.

Mutual aid groups have been supporting recovery, as have some of the state’s large and small nonprofits and even some of their own businesses (HEB, the state’s beloved grocery chain, has once again stepped up to do what they can to ensure residents have safe food and water).

It’s still early in recovery for storm survivors and many are still assessing the damage.

For readers and book lovers who are eager to pitch in from places outside Texas, a number of fundraisers, scholarships, and other financial resources have been set up to aid in recovery efforts. Find below a range of places where your dollar will go a long way to helping rebuild classrooms, libraries, and other literacy-related spaces.

Every penny donated counts, as does every share of these efforts. Any steps you take make a difference.

This is a living, growing document. As new projects come to my attention and as listed projects are fulfilled, I will update. News of fundraisers or projects relating to literacy, classrooms, libraries, books, or reading from organizations and non-profits — including shelters, hospitals, and other similar places — may be sent to kelly at riotnewmedia.com.

I hold the right to highlight those which fit Book Riot’s goals and missions.

Classroom Recovery Requests

Information comes from DonorsChoose, and costs to fund the projects to completion are current as of Wednesday, February 24. Each was posted following the storm by educators who had access to necessary technology and were eager to help bring stability and normalcy to their students. It’s likely we’ll see an increase in need in the coming weeks from Texas classrooms.

  • Staying Full: Nearly all students in this Dime Box, Texas, district come from low-income homes, and teacher Ms. Rouse has set up a fundraiser to get food and drink to those students. $551 to fund the project.
  • Literacy Interventions: This Tyler, Texas, classroom will get workbooks to students for in-class and at-home study. $89 to complete the project.
  • Calm After The Texas Blizzard: Online and in-person students at this Euless, Texas, school will engage with dissecting owl pellets as an exciting and fascinating lesson post-storm. $578 will complete the project.
  • Making Connections Through Books: An Austin-based elementary school is planning a curbside book and resource giveaway, and this fundraiser will help ensure students can take home — and keep — a wide range of books to help them through what has been a tough year. $950 to complete.
  • Tutorial Snacks: This San Benito teacher writes: “I am asking for snacks for [my students] to eat during tutorials after school. Some of these students go home and they do not have a warm meal at home. My students are struggling with parents that have lost their jobs. We were hit by a Winter storm last week and the whole community lost power. Parents notified me that they had to throw all their food because they were without electricity for more than 6 days. I want to make sure they eat something before they go home. These snacks will be utilize given to them twice per week before tutorials.” $158 to fund the project.

Texas Library Association’s Disaster Relief Fund

The Texas Library Association (TLA) is the state’s library association and the largest state library association in the United States. Among their programs, projects, and resources is a Disaster Relief fund specifically for libraries in need of emergency money.

To donate to the Disaster Relief fund, head over to the TLA website’s Contributions page, then click the link to “Other Funds.” About half-way down that page is where you can donate directly to Disaster Relief.

Literacy Achieves

This north Texas based organization focuses on helping non–English speaking adults and their children raise their English literacy skills. They’ve opened a warming center in Dallas and are seeking funds to help ensure those who need food, blankets, water, and other supplies have them.

Donate here.

United To Learn

This Dallas-based organization focuses on growing achievement of students through changing the relationships between schools and communities. They’re currently collecting donations to help students, families, and educators of Dallas Independent School District to purchase food, blankets, water, and other essentials.

Donate here.

Individual Fundraisers

These GoFundMe projects were sourced via the crowdfunding website and specifically mentioned books as one of their needs — collections were lost or damaged deeply during the storms. Unlike DonorsChoose, which vets each project, do note that GoFundMe projects may be set up by anyone, so proceed with that in mind. Just as with classroom projects, expect to see more fundraisers emerge on GoFundMe as basic needs are being met across the state.

  • Replacing Essentials: “As is the story with many families, the storms in texas have completely devastated our family. After 3 days of no power in freezing temperatures, we woke up this morning  to our ceiling collapsing from flooding in the unit above ours. We had to flee and lost everything we own. We have nothing but the clothes on our back and our vehicle. We know millions in texas are facing similar circumstances. We are just hoping to replace the bare necessities so our 2 year old daughter has a bed, dishes, books, some toys, etc”
  • Help Springbok Academy: “Springbok suffered a terrible flood from a burst water pipe in the ceiling over the library. Owner and Director, Liz Seibt, received a call on Wednesday evening that there was water running down the street outside of the school building.  When she arrived with her partner Francois, they found the entire building completely flooded with several inches of standing water.  Books, toys, and cherished memories were a complete loss.”
  • Tragic Fire During Winter Storm: “Hello, I am starting this fundraiser for my Bonus Children and their mother. On 2/16/2021 during the winter storm that hit Texas, the children and their mother tragically lost their home and all their belongings in a devastating fire. I am asking for donations to help the family replace their belongings that were lost in the fire such as clothes, shoes, books and more that may not be replaced by the insurance.”

This is but the start of the long road to recovery for Texas. Keep an eye here for updates on organizations and projects where you can help out, and utilize the incredible tools like those created by Texas mutual aid groups to connect those in need with financial, medical, educational, and other means of support through the crisis.

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