El Paso, Texas-- It’s been over a year since the local non-profit “Books Are Gems” has been able to open their doors to the public. However, this past weekend volunteers were excited to finally open their doors to the community just in time for the start of school.
Dora Hernandez enjoys bringing her granddaughter, Allison, to the Books are Gems headquarters in El Paso’s lower valley.
"Since she was a baby we’ve been coming to this place,” said Hernandez.
Books are Gems is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire children and empower families through literacy.
“Unfortunately we have a high illiteracy rate in El Paso," said Books are Gems executive director Emma Acosta, "So we believe that providing books for children, and research has shown that children that have at least 20 books in their homes will do better academically.”
During the pandemic, Books are Gems was forced to close their doors, but that didn’t stop them from providing free books to kids in need.
"During that time we were getting creative and we were giving bags of free books for children every Friday,” said Acosta, "Now that a lot of people have been vaccinated, we thought that it would be time that we open up again and we had a lot of parents ask when are you opening, our kids want books.”
The process to get free books is simple. Children, from toddlers to high school students, can go to the Books are Gems bookstore located at 7744 North Loop #B on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Students will recieve five gently used books of their choice and one new book as well. Students can keep the books or bring them back to donate after they are done reading them.
Books are Gems also provides teachers with free resources as well.
"We believe teachers shouldn't have to pay out of their own pocket for resources they may need for their classrooms," said Acosta, "Teachers get 25 books per semester and any resources they may need for their classroom.”
Books are Gems is volunteer ran and accepts books donations during their regular store hours.
Parents and their children are encouraged to take. Advantage of this free resource throughout this coming school year and beyond.