National Night Out: A Night to Remember

By Daniele Berman, Community Partnerships Manager

“I know her!” one young girl excitedly announced to her friends as she wrapped her arms around me (and my boxes of books). “She came to the park last weekend, she came to my summer camp, and she came to my school!”

I couldn’t think of a better way to start National Night Out than with that hug of recognition and friendship.

Every year, on the first Tuesday in August, communities all over the country get together to celebrate National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Here’s a glimpse at how Durham Chief of Police C.J. Davis spent her evening:

At Book Harvest, we had so much fun participating in National Night Out celebrations in four Durham communities: Cornwallis Road, Oxford Manor, Club Boulevard, and Southside. All told, children in those neighborhoods selected over 850 books to take home and keep forever! Here is what one of our volunteers had to say about her experience sharing books on Tuesday:

Two moments in particular stood out for me. The first was when a teenager stopped by and, after carefully sorting through all the options, chose two picture books for a relative. He asked what he owed us as he pulled out his wallet. It was such a delight to assure the thoughtful young man that not only were those books free, but he could take more! A small moment, but one that encapsulated for me what fun it is to volunteer with an organization that is based on generosity.

The second highlight was when a young boy–five or six years old–shyly crept up to the table. He rather listlessly looked over the picture books but couldn’t seem to find any he liked, so I started offering him some suggestions. We picked four or five books in which he showed increasing (though silent) interest, but I knew we had really hit the jackpot when I stumbled across a beautiful, goofy, fun book about animals. He still didn’t say anything, but he started bouncing on his toes when I first showed him the book and progressed to flat out jumping in excitement as we turned the pages. For just a moment I felt like a book-choosing superhero!

Many thanks to our friends at Durham Housing Authority and Southside who invited us to join their neighborhoods in celebrating all there is to love about our communities in Durham!