It all started with my tour of David Lawrence Centers .  As we walked through the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit, I learned that the center is enlarging the space. I was amazed at the great need in our community for mental health services for children.

While I was there, I saw a young boy of around nine years visiting with his family in a common area. I wondered what mental trauma had brought a boy so young to the unit. But I was touched by the sight of his family surrounding him.

I already knew about David Lawrence Center; adult family friends had used their services and been very happy with them. But I didn’t realize how many children they serve.

Then I received an email from the center that gave Barnes & Noble a way to make a difference in the lives of those children. I learned that children at the center always put “books” and “magazines” on their wish lists. The writer of the email asked if Barnes & Noble could donate books and magazines suitable for children recovering from mental health problems.

I was so happy these children were asking for books and magazines.  I would imagine they’re in situations that are confusing, uncomfortable and scary. I sense they want books and magazines as a comfort. That’s heartwarming.

The email got me thinking. I have a very small budget — almost non-existent — for donations. So I have to be creative. One big way Barnes & Noble donates to nonprofits is through our clearance sales, which we hold throughout the year. Whatever items don’t sell, we can donate.

The timing was amazing! When I received the email, we were toward the end of a sale. And my goal is to find a good fit for all items available for donating. A lot of things left unsold fit the needs of David Lawrence Centers children and teens! We donated puzzles, kids’ books and coloring books, some of which are designed to be stress-relieving.

Coloring can really help people. I don’t consider myself an artistic person. But through coloring books, even if you don’t feel like a super-artistic person, you can make something beautiful. That can be encouraging for anyone, particularly children and teens.

One day, I was cleaning out my closet at work and found a box filled with coloring sheets from a kids event held years ago. I knew right where they were going! I knew they would be utilized at David Lawrence Centers – and that they would help. Barnes & Noble has also donated plush toys and diaries to the children at the center.

It makes me feel wonderful that I can give back to community even in a small way. If we, as community members and community organizations, can help these kids when they’re young, if we can address their issues, they will have so much of a better chance to be successful in life.

I’ve gotten all positive reactions from Barnes & Noble staff. Everyone is thrilled that the company can help such an important organization. Now, when a clearance sale is over, staff tells each other, “Don’t throw anything out! Hold onto it for Jessica!”

I hope our donations can give these children a sense of comfort while they’re going through a really tough time.

Inspired by Barnes & Noble’s generous action on behalf of our littlest, most vulnerable clients? We gratefully accept in-kind donations of items on our wish list. Contact the David Lawrence Centers Constituent Relations Department to learn how you can help by calling 239-304-3505.  

Oct 04, 2016 | News

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