It has been over a year since we launched Ethan and Choco’s Book Club (ECBC) with the MaxLove Project, and we are excited to share some of the highlights of 2016 as well as our anticipated next steps. After launching ECBC on social media in December 2015, we quickly formed an amazing core team to start planning and fundraising, and shortly afterwards we received the green light from the CHOC Foundation to move forward with building a program at CHOC. We created a website, a fundraising page, a Facebook page, an awesome logo (thanks to artist Mike Kungl), and merchandise and promotional materials (thanks to graphic designer Emily Frye). And since then, we’ve been working hard to raise money, collect books, coordinate plans for starting up in the hospital, and build awareness and make connections in Orange County. Last year we raised over $15,000 in funds and collected over 5000 new books. Of these 5,000 books, 1500 are hardcover books for our permanent Lending Library, and 3500 books comprise the start of our Gifting Library -- which is a separate collection of largely paperback books for patients in isolation who (per hospital protocol and infectious disease restrictions) cannot borrow books from the Lending Library. Ethan is proud that he completed Book Look #366 of his 2016 Book Look Challenge -- his self-imposed challenge that he announced on the first day of 2016 to make a video of a featured bookthat he wants donated for every day of the year. Daily Book Looks were posted and linked to ECBC’s Wish List on Amazon, and books of all types and for all ages came in the mail almost daily all year long -- making up the majority of our Lending Library to date. As part of our efforts to book-raise and build awareness, we set up our first booths at several events at Ethan’s elementary school, and then we enjoyed participating in larger events in the broader OC community, first at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival and then at a MaxLove holiday event at SOCO and the OC Mix in Costa Mesa. A few months ago, Ethan was inpatient for the first time in a while, which reminded him just how much books and reading are needed at the hospital. So he took advantage of being inpatient and spontaneously hosted a show on the CHOC radio station -- where he introduced himself and his mission to build a library at CHOC, read aloud a few favorite books, and gave away about 30 books to patients. These were the first ECBC books to be put in the hands of kids at CHOC, and Ethan said “it was so awesome to finally get to share my love of reading with other kids at CHOC”! Near the end of the year, a terrific article about Ethan and ECBC was published on the front page of the Orange County Register (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/children-736490-books-book.html) -- which was a definite highlight of the year and resulted in increased book donations and connections in the community. We finished the year with a Launch Party at the hospital, where we held storytime with five local wonderful children’s book authors, gave away 250 books to patients, and crafted books with MaxLove’s Therapeutic Arts program. It was awesome to end the year with so many books and so much reading happening in the lobby at CHOC!
Without doubt, the greatest highlight of the past year was the tremendous support that ECBC received from so many individual donors, kids in action who created their own booths to raise money or conducted book drives at their own schools, teachers who organized class projects that resulted inbook donations, and support from our first book publishers and charitable organizations. We’re so grateful for the support of our most significant donors -- Mary and Vaso Adzich, Jen and Jon Haft, Carol and Howard Hay, the Irvine Kiwanis Club, Kris Mauger/Burnham Insurance, PBS SoCal, Serge Melkizian/Quintus Investment Counsel, and the anonymous donors who generously gave at MaxLove Project’s 2016 Farm to Fork dinner. We’re also starting to create agrowing list of ECBC Thrive Partners who have committed to providing ongoing financial or book support. Our initial Thrive Partners include Sharon and Tod Paris, Barry Ackerman, KidsRead and Milk & Bookies (two terrific nonprofit organizations that give books to kids in need); the local Tustin bookstore Once Upon a Storybook (which collects books in the store daily and joins us at many community events); Saddleback Educational Publishing; Girl Scout Troop #3115; Coventry Court Health Center; and Tarbut ‘V Torah Community Day School (our first Orange County School to commit to book-raising on an annual basis for ECBC after holding a very successful book drive in December). We are so honored to have received so much support in our first year!
With a successful year behind us, we are excited for 2017! We just received approval of a new volunteer position in the Child Life Department at CHOC -- called ECBC Bedside Reader. This means that we can now finally start the four to five month hospital volunteer approval process, with a goal to launch Phase 1 of ECBC, called Reading Aloud in Every Room, midway through 2017. By the end of 2017, we hope to launch Phase 2, “Books in Every Room”, which is our Lending Library on mobile book carts. We will continue with our efforts to collect new books, and Ethan plans to do a monthly Title Talk that shares on social media the titles of some of the books that we need for the library (which will continue to be linked to our Wish List on Amazon). In the coming months as we are preparing to start the first two phases of the program in the hospital, we hope to renew momentum for financial donations after focusing much of the past year on collecting books and resolving organizational matters. We will be establishing new financial goals and plan on reaching out to our past donors and other potential individuals and organizations to help us meet them. We will also be working hard to continue to form enduring partnerships with individuals, schools, corporations, and both youth and adult charity groups, since the unique demands of a hospital-based library mean that we will have significant built-in loss of books (largely due to the gifting of books to all patients in isolation). Just to be able to read aloud to kids in isolation means gifting books to them! Creating a sustainable library at CHOC will depend on significant ongoing support from the community, so we hope this year many more ECBC Thrive Partners will join our efforts to bring reading to Orange County’s hospitalized kids! (You can click on the link to the fundraising site below to make a one-time or recurring donation.) We hope that 2017 will close with the first two phases of ECBC off the ground, patients enjoying books and reading on a daily basis, more partners and significantly more funds, and the road paved for us to start thinking about our long-term goal of building a stand-alone full-service library for CHOC patients. Just recently, Ethan commented “how cool it is that ECBC started out as just an idea, then a dream...and now it’s actually happening.” We can’t wait to continue to make strides in 2017 to make books and reading a core part of the care that CHOC patients receive!
Ali Posner (ECBC Co-Founder), Ethan Posner (ECBC Co-Founder and Leukemia Warrior), and the ECBC Team.
To learn more or support ECBC:
- Email: ECBC@maxloveproject.org
- Website: www.ethanandchocosbookclub.com
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ethanandchocosbookclub/?pnref=story
- Fundraising Page: http://bit.ly/EthansBooks
- Amazon Wish List: https://amzn.com/w/BLD7UEVPPPO