First Up: November

BookSmiles 5K Run/Walk at Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Help the Homeless This November

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, and Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is Nov. 11-18. Want to help?
No matter what age your child is, it’s never too early to start talking about volunteer opportunities and creating a heart for helping others. There are plenty of organizations in the Philadelphia area that serve the vulnerable. Pheed Philly can help you create care packages to donate ( The Bethesda Project collects donations to help the homeless ( And the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission ( focuses on collecting essential items.
Broad Street Ministry (, Valley Youth House ( and homeless shelters in the city ( are always looking for volunteers to help with shopping and other tasks.

Local Book Nonprofit Raises Money

With school back in session this fall, every parent can relate to planning for the many books their child will need throughout the year.
BookSmiles, a nonprofit in Pennsauken, New Jersey, that collects books to distribute to teachers and students, hosted a 5K Run/Walk at Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill to fundraise and promote awareness of its mission, according to a news release.
The charity organization has distributed more than 1 million books to almost 200,000 children since its inception in 2017. Its primary focus is on kids who need books the most because of limited resources.
More than 200 runners and walkers participated in in the 5K and walk, raising $17,000 and attracting 22 sponsors, including local Neshaminy Brewery, in Croydon, Pennsylvania.
“As we emerge from our start-up phase, we are looking for exciting ways to strengthen our existing network made up of thousands of teachers, book donors, nonprofit organizations, book nerds and volunteer sorters,” says Larry Abrams, BookSmiles’ executive director.
Since 2018, the nonprofit has had volunteers dedicate more than 3,000 hours sorting books. Families, individuals and groups interested in volunteering can sign up to sort, hold a book drive or even paint a collection bin. Books can be donated at local bins. Find a list of bins at
Looking ahead, Abrams hopes to do even more for BookSmiles’ cause.
“My son Rob told me last spring that he wanted to help BookSmiles by coordinating our first 5K. At one point, I worried if we’d even have 50 people sign up,” he says.
“Next year, we’re going bigger!” ■


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