2014-03-11 LOG Firstbook 1When Joe Knouse, instructor for Cumberland Perry AVTS’s Logistics and Warehousing program, learned about Firstbook, he didn’t hesitate to get on board. Not only does the program provide some key components for his students’ training, it also goes toward a good cause.

Firstbook is a nonprofit organization created in 1992 by Kyle Zimmer. During its 21 years serving underprivileged students across the U.S. and Canada, Firstbook has distributed over 100 million books to 90,000 schools and programs. However, the program wouldn’t have gotten this far without its many supporters willing to lend a hand.

“Their goal is to distribute free books to children in need,” Knouse said. “They have a small office in Washington, D.C. They don’t have a warehouse, forklifts...so they send the books to school warehousing programs willing to store and ship them for free.”

Programs like the Logistics programs at CPAVTS provide a necessary component to Firstbook’s success, but in return they receive valuable experiences to add to their post-graduation resumes. Students learn how to inventory, measure the size of the books, label the shipments correctly, pull orders from the shelves, and ship them to their destinations. “There’s only so much you can learn through simulation,” Knouse said. “And this program will teach students how to actually carry out an order from receiving it in the warehouse to shipping it through UPS.”

For the moment, Knouse’s students are supporting underprivileged children in the West Perry elementary school with this first shipment; in the future, they plan to work with Harrisburg schools, some of which have a dire need for these reading materials.

“We wanted to partner with the Mechanicsburg library as well, but this shipment didn’t fit the [Firstbook] program parameters. There are specific guidelines concerning who can receive books, and they need to go to children in need,” Mr. Knouse said.

Firstbook’s goal is to eradicate illiteracy in North America. As a result, their books are donated to children who receive free or reduced lunches at school; children who meet HHS, state, or federal poverty guidelines; students who have disabilities; or children who meet a variety of other factors that could impact their access to books. To ensure that Firstbook is able to verify eligibility, registration is done through schools, churches, or other programs instead of through individual parents and families.

Visit Firstbook’s website at www.firstbook.org for more information on donating, volunteering, fundraising, receiving books, or on the organization itself.