Paying it Forward – Children’s Books for OAR Fairfax
On January 18, 2017, Fairfax Library Foundation donated five boxes of new children’s books to OAR Fairfax. OAR stands for “Opportunities, Alternatives and Resources” and their mission is: “To rebuild lives and break the cycle of crime with opportunities, alternatives, and resources for offenders and their families to create a safer community.”
The gift consisted 320 children’s books of all ages and subjects, originally donated to Fairfax Library Foundation in 2013 by Books-a-Million and Books-a-Million shoppers. These books will now support OAR family services. The books will be available to families and children that visit the OAR office and for those visiting their loved ones at the Fairfax County Jail.
OAR and the Foundation – A Partnership Begins
Fairfax Library Foundation connected with OAR Fairfax thanks to one of our Fairfax County Public Library librarians at George Mason Regional, Sarah Souther. Ms. Souther attended a meeting of the Fairfax Reentry Council to speak with them about library services for inmates who have completed their sentences. The Reentry Council is made up of representatives from state, county and nonprofit institutions that work with people during and after incarceration. In speaking with Derwin Overton, Executive Director of OAR, Ms. Souther learned about their need for children’s books. Parents who have finished their sentences have the opportunity to choose books to take home to their families. These books provide a way for the recently incarcerated to connect with family again, while providing literacy support in the home. OAR goes through about 250 books each year, and they struggle to keep the bookshelves stocked.
Ms. Souther brought this need to the attention of Fairfax Library Foundation, and when the Foundation made the connection between the need and the existing gift of children’s books, we jumped at the chance to start this partnership. Abigail Fine from the Foundation and Sarah Souther met with Mr. Overton at the time of the gift delivery, and we hope this can be the start of an ongoing partnership. It is in line with the mission of the library and Foundation, to not only share literature within library branches, but to reach out to where the community needs it most.
For more information about OAR Fairfax, please visit their website: http://www.oarfairfax.org/. If you are interested in making a monetary or book donation to the Foundation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-324-8300. Thank you!