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Jewish Community Center organizes book drive for Oceanside children, families

OCEANSIDE — The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center this month announced a book drive to support children and families within the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside, following the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The book drive, which aims to collect as many kindergarten through sixth-grade books as possible, will allow the families most affected by the pandemic access to books, said community leaders.

Children from poorer households have access to fewer books and other reading materials than their more affluent peers,” Jodi Diamond, CEO, Boys and Girls Club Oceanside, said. “Making books available to those Club members is a good step toward insulating them against the reading achievement gap and summer learning slide that affects many of our youth.”

Diamond said the Boys and Girls Club serves more than 1,400 children each day across eight locations and more than 4,200 children each year. The centers were among the many that were forced to close after elected officials ordered the public to stay-at-home to slow the spread of the deadly disease.

Aside from the need for access to books, Diamond said families of the Boys and Girls Club are now struggling in other ways, including going without the food provided by the nonprofit, falling behind academically and losing jobs.

Although the leaders behind the Boys and Girls Club are still offering virtual services during the stay-at-home order, the donated books will be valuable to the families and children.

“We are so grateful for the donation of new books for our youth,” Diamond said. “That will have an immediate effect on our kids.”

The partnership began with the friendship of Diamond and Betzy Lynch, the CEO of Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, said Robyn Statman, senior director of marketing and strategy for the Center.

“It was a no-brainer when the two were chatting about the COVID-19 situation and the potential and real impact to their respective organizations, for Betzy to offer support to her counterpart in Oceanside,” Statman said. “Betzy felt that our community has different resources than theirs. The kids in the Boys and Girls Club programs don’t have the tools or access to video content and with the schools and libraries closed, they don’t have books or activities readily available to them during the shut-in.”

Noting that “we’re all in this together,” Statman said the Jewish Community Center hopes to collect as many books as possible at its drop-off location in La Jolla. The books will be sanitized before they are delivered to the Boys and Girls Club in Oceanside.

“There are a lot of children in our community with no books, no school, no screens or internet and parents who work or are doing their best under these circumstances,” Statman said. “Imagine being a parent who was just laid-off work due to COVID-19 or still working remotely to keep the roof over your families’ heads, your child is out of school with no screens or internet access to take advantage of some of the free virtual programs that are available.

School, which is often the child’s source of breakfast and lunch is closed. Libraries are closed. What are these children to do? These books are a lifeline for these children and can help them grow, learn and expand their imaginations, as well as keep them busy during this challenging time.”

Like the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside, the Jewish Community Center is also offering free, online programs for the public during the stay-at-home order. Together, both groups hope to do their part in serving the community.

“It takes a village,” Statman said. “Together, we are the village.”

Books can be donated at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center at 4126 Executive Dr., La Jolla. For more information about the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside or to make a donation, go to bgcoceanside.org/.

For more information about the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center or its online programs, go to fjcc.org/virtual.

Hoa Quach has 15 years of experience in journalism, garnering multiple awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. She’s been named a “Woman Who Means Business” by the San Diego Business Journal, featured in BuzzFeed during International Women’s Day and recognized by the California Legislature for her work. You can reach her at hoa@coastnewsgroup.com.