Meet Our Big Dreamers-in-Chief!

With the Dream Big Book Drive on MLK Day 2018 just over four months away and sponsorship season already in full swing, we wanted to take a minute to introduce you to our Dream Big committee chairs: Ann Leininger and Sarah Schulz. These two superwomen and their committee work year-round to make Book Harvest’s signature annual event a huge success! Keep reading to learn more about how Ann and Sarah became Book Harvest’s Big Dreamers-in-Chief!

  • How did you get involved with Book Harvest? When? Why?
    • Ann: I got involved in April 2015 to help Book Harvest’s participation in the Battle of the Bands sponsored by McKinney. I have always loved reading (preferring to spend time with Nancy Drew rather than doing homework when I was younger) and was excited to use my project management skills to help Book Harvest succeed in the Battle of the Bands challenge. Once the Battle of the Bands was over, it was a natural progression to get involved in Book Harvest’s Development Committee and Dream Big committee.
    • Sarah: I became involved with Book Harvest 3 years ago when my friend and Book Harvest’s Community Partnerships Manager Daniele Berman invited me to sit on the Dream Big committee! The ask came at a perfect time – my kids were all in school full time and I was desiring some volunteer work within the community that would be ongoing and meaningful. Last year I stepped into the Sponsorship Chair role and haven’t looked back! You walk through the door at Book Harvest and cannot help but be hooked by the energy, creativity, and heart that the organization has for local children and literacy.
  • Considering that you’re a Book Harvest volunteer, it’s safe to assume you’re a book lover yourself. Tell me your own personal book-love story!
    • Ann: If you have a book to read, you are never bored or lonely! And reading to my son is a great way for us to spend time together and connect. Sometimes he picks out the books, sometimes I pick them. It’s especially gratifying to hear some of the more complex vocabulary words I have read to my son start appearing in his conversations.
    • Sarah: Many of my childhood memories involve my love of reading. Everywhere I went – riding in the car, on vacation, at summer camp – I had a book with me. And bedtime never happened without reading first! Now to see my 3 boys, ages 8,10, and 14, have the same love for books makes me passionate that EVERY child deserves to experience the world that reading can open up for them.
  • What is one of your favorite moments volunteering with Book Harvest?
    • Ann: Seeing how excited kids are by books; they just can’t believe that they are allowed to take home books for free and keep them forever!
    • Sarah: Ah, do I have to narrow it down?! From a committee member view, I love the partnership and teamwork that is generated as we work towards our goal of each Dream Big Book Drive. I always leave a meeting energized – as if someone had pressed a fast-forward button and our ideas came rapid-fire. The collaboration is invigorating, especially knowing that everything we are discussing is for the common goal of getting books into the hands of kids in our community!
      From a sponsorship angle, it gives me goosebumps every time a sponsor signs on. It is such an act of generosity and community-centered thinking. I am humbled again and again that we have so many supporters who see our vision and want to come on board!
      Lastly – but most important! – getting to witness the joy of a child finding that perfect book from Book Harvest and realizing they get to keep it forever puts all the hard ‘behind the scenes’ work into perspective. It is certainly something to celebrate!
  • What do you love about the Dream Big Book Drive?
    • Ann: Dream Big is all about engaging our Durham community to come together and celebrate books. I love how many members of the community come forward to collect, sort, sticker, and count books. But even better, how many stay after their volunteer shift to just talk, dance to the music, and celebrate being in a vibrant, diverse, enthusiastic community!
    • Sarah: My favorite part of the Dream Big Book Drive is the ENERGY! Young and old from all walks of life gather together to play, dance, create, and DONATE BOOKS! And we have these fabulous volunteers unloading, sorting, and boxing books in the midst of it all, creating a beautiful chaos of positive vibes. It is such a unifying way for everyone from our community to come together on MLK Day to honor Dr. King’s legacy.
  • What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event?
    • Ann: Brainstorming with the Dream Big planning community to come up with a project that everybody who attends the event can engage in and feel even more connected to the event.
    • Sarah: Anyone who knows me well knows I am a list-maker and I LOVE tracking progress. So, I get super excited each time the ‘total books collected’ sign is updated with the new total. Last year’s total was 48,334 books collected! I cannot wait to see how many books we collect at our Dream Big event on January 15, 2018!
  • Any final thoughts before you get back to work planning?
    • Ann: I love that as long as people have imaginations, we will never run out of books! The best renewable resource I know!!
    • Sarah: As we plan for our January 2018 event, please encourage your workplace to become a sponsor, sign up to run a book drive, check your own bookshelves for books to donate, and mark your calendars for the Dream Big Book Drive on MLK Day, January 15, 2018! We cannot wait to see you there!